Aisha Buhari gets new international appointment

Aisha Buhari gets new international appointment
Aisah, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, has been given a new appointment by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) Aisha...
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http://storiya.com/2019/03/12/76999-access-bank-others-unite-against-hiv-stigma-discrimination/

Access Bank, others unite against HIV stigma, discrimination

By Gabriel OlawaleAs Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2019 Zero Discrimination Day against Persons Living With HIV/ AIDS, PLWHA, the Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS, NIBUCAA in collaboration with HACEY Initiatives, has highlighted the urgent need to take action against laws which exclude persons living with HIV/AIDS from essential services or subject them to undue restrictions on how they live their lives.At a media and youth forum by Access Bank to commemorate UNAIDS Zero Discrimination Day in Lagos, Executive Secretary of NIBUCAA, Gbenga Alabi, said everyone can play a part in ending discrimination as well as make a difference in the campaign.He emphasised the importance of creating public awareness to the plights of persons living with HIV/AIDS, adding that, the lack of protective law enforcement and existence of punitive laws can fuel stigma and discrimination as well as hinder access to HIV services.Commentin, Programme Director of HACEY Initiatives, Owolabi Isaiah, said due to stigma and discrimination, young people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria go through all forms of human right violations that expose them to isolation, lack of interest in seeking help or servicesHe said despite advances in the prevention and treatment of HIV, the shadow of HIV stigma still looms large, affecting people living with the disease. “While the quality of life has improved enormously for people with HIV in the past years, many of the same social and psychological barriers remain.”Owolabi said learning to overcome HIV stigma is not always an easy thing as it requires a degree of self-reflection, as well as an honest assessment of victims, own personal biases and beliefs.On her part, Head of Sustainability, Access Bank Plc, Mrs Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan said the bank has been in the forefront of the campaign against the stigmatization of persons living with HIV.While urging Nigerians to stop stigmatisation against HIV and AIDS patients, Mrs Victor Laniyan said adopting a human rights approach to HIV and AIDS is in the best interests of public health and is key to eradicating stigma and discrimination.The Zero Discrimination Day since 2014 has been commemorated annually on the 1st of March as a global event that promotes diversity and recognizes that everyone counts.
http://storiya.com/2019/03/14/80978-buhari-unveils-nigerias-aids-indicator-impact-survey-results/

Buhari unveils Nigeria’s AIDS indicator, impact survey results

Related NewsPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja formally unveiled the findings of the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS).Mr Buhari noted during the presidential announcement of the NAIIS result at the Banquet hall of Aso Rock that the results would form the future response to the country’s HIV and AIDS epidemic.He said the new prevalence of HIV and AIDS according to the result gives an estimate of 1.9 million people living with HIV in Nigeria presently.According to him, this is an improvement to what was obtained in 2014, when the country was estimated to have 3.1 million people living with the virus in the country.Mr Buhari also noted that the results would provide the government with appropriate information that would enable the country beat the 2030 target of ending the epidemic.“This result will provide the government with information to move forward in the HIV fight based on scientific data. We are already a step ahead in this regard.“However, we cannot celebrate yet as we are more committed to ensuring that more people are placed on treatment.“Now that we have the data, I urge us all to work together to ensure that we deliver ahead of 2030,” he said.More work to be doneHe added that in line with his administration’s commitment to healthcare, the government would ensure more people living with HIV are put on free anti-retroviral treatment.He also appreciated the U.S. government, PEPFAR, Global Fund, and all partners that contributed to the success of the survey.He, however, tasked the Ministry of Health and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) to work closely with state governments with high HIV prevalence by ensuring that the epidemic was drastically reduced.NAN recalls that the Federal Government launched the National AIDS Survey on June 28, 2018, to determine the true distribution of HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in the country.
http://storiya.com/2019/03/14/39305-nigeria-improves-on-hiv-ranking-now-fourth-worst-hit-country-minister/

Nigeria improves on HIV ranking, now fourth worst hit country — Minister

Related NewsThe Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, says Nigeria has moved to the fourth position among countries worst hit by the HIV epidemic.With an earlier estimate of about 3.2 million people living with HIV, Nigeria was ranked second after South Africa which ranks first with about 7.1 million people living with HIV.Speaking during a press briefing held after the announcement of the Nigeria HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) result on Thursday, Mr Adewole said Nigeria has now moved to the fourth position after South Africa, India and Mozambique following the findings of the survey. The event was held at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Abuja.In 2016, a report by the World Health Organisation stated that Nigeria had the second largest HIV epidemic, with over 196,000 adolescents representing 10 per cent of the global burden epidemic.However, findings from the largest HIV survey to be conducted in the world puts Nigeria prevalence rate at 1.4 per cent.The federal government launched the National AIDS survey in June 2018 to determine the true distribution of HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in the country.The survey reached around 220,000 people in about 100,000 households and was conducted between July and December 2018.The result of the survey shows that about 1.9 million Nigerians are currently living with HIV, a figure which is lower than the previous estimate.In his keynote address, Mr Adewole said the NAIIS findings provide Nigeria with an accurate national HIV prevalence measure of 1.4 per cent.“NAIIS also showed we are able to effectively provide antiretroviral treatment,” he said.Mr Adewole said everyone infected with HIV needs to get treatment so they can achieve viral suppression, especially pregnant women.“We must ensure pregnant women have access to antenatal services and are tested during every pregnancy. We know we can support HIV-positive mothers, hence ensuring the next generation is free from HIV.” he said.While unveiling the survey results, President Muhammadu Buhari said the goal to end AIDs in Nigeria by 2030 is still feasible.“For the first time, the end of AIDs as a public threat by 2030 is truly in sight for our country,” the president said.“I urge all of us not to relent but to increase the momentum. Let us work collectively and push for the last mile.”In his goodwill message, David Young, Charge de Affairs, Embassy of the United States of America, said it is wonderful to see the remarkable result the Nigerian government achieved with support from the United States.He said NAIIS is a project embarked on to solve the current challenge of HIV in the country.He applauded the field workers for their commitments towards the success of the NAIIS survey.He also thanked the president for his personal commitment to the success of the survey.
http://storiya.com/2019/03/12/39824-stakeholders-seeks-cancellation-of-laws-stigmatizing-hivaids-patients-the-guardian-nigeria-news-nigeria-and-world-news/

Stakeholders seeks cancellation of laws stigmatizing HIV/AIDS patients | The Guardian Nigeria News –...

In commemoration of the 2019 Zero Discrimination Day against persons living with AIDS, the Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NIBUCAA) in collaboration with HACEY Initiatives, has called for the cancellation of laws that excludes persons living with HIV/AIDS from essential services in the society.The stakeholders, who spoke at a media and youth forum, sponsored by Access Bank in Lagos on Friday, executive secretary of NIBUCAA, Gbenga Alabi, said the quest to ending discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients was a collective responsibility of every citizen of Nigeria.He also emphasized the importance of creating public awareness to promote the plights of persons living with AIDS/HIV.Alabi explained that the lack of protective law enforcement and the existence of punitive laws increases stigmatization and discrimination that hinders access to HIV services for patients.“My call this year is focused on changing discriminatory laws and practices that block people from accessing health and other life-saving services. It is not just enough that we talk and laws and policies that remain dormant, but we must also take actions,” Alabi said.Head of Sustainability at Access Bank Plc, one of the key partners of NIBUCAA, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan said the bank has been in the forefront of the campaign against the stigmatization of persons living with HIV.While urging Nigerians to stop stigmatisation against HIV and AIDS patients, Victor-Laniyan said adopting a human rights approach to HIV and AIDS is in the best interests of public health and is key to eradicating stigma and discrimination.Also, Programme Director of HACEY Initiatives, Owolabi Isaiah, said young people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria go through all forms of human right violations that expose them to isolation, low self-esteem and lack of interest in seeking help or accessing social services.He said despite efforts to promote the prevention and treatment of HIV, the stigma still persists, affecting many living with the disease. “While the quality of life has improved enormously for people with HIV in the past years, many of the same social and psychological barriers remain.”Owolabi said learning to overcome HIV stigma is not always an easy thing as it requires a degree of self-reflection, as well as an honest assessment of victims own personal biases and beliefs.A panelist at the forum Fred Adegboye, spoke on the title, ‘Raising awareness, mobilizing and taking action on ending discrimination against persons living HIV in Nigeria’, said stigmatization remains the major challenge in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.Adegboye, who disclosed that he is HIV positive, said persons living with HIV are normal human beings and living with HIV should not be an issue rather to support them to go for medical treatments.Another panelist, Ben Paul opined that stigmatization creates an unnecessary culture of secrecy and silence based on ignorance and fear of victimization.He explained that adolescents living with HIV are growing up with limited psychosocial support, stating that their sexuality, psychological and social needs are also unattended to.According to him, stigma and discrimination happen in different forms and in numerous places and can be executed consciously and unconsciously.
http://storiya.com/2019/03/14/16027-2018-hivaids-survey-we-cannot-celebrate-yet-buhari/

2018 HIV/AIDS Survey: We cannot celebrate yet – Buhari

Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday unveiled the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) and noted with delight that less Nigerians were living with the HIV virus when compared to the 2014 survey.The president, who spoke at the unveiling of NAIIS in Abuja, however, said “we cannot celebrate yet, as almost a million Nigerians living with HIV are currently not on treatment’’.NAIIS, inaugurated in June 2018 by Buhari, was a national household-based survey that assessed the prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and related health indicators.The NAIIS data collection was conducted from July through December 2018.According to Buhari, the official HIV prevalence for persons aged 15-49 years in Nigeria is now 1.4 per cent as against 3.2 per cent in 2014, while an estimated 1.9 million (as against 3 million in 2014) Nigerians are now living with HIV with about one million persons on treatment.The president observed that the availability of accurate and reliable HIV data for the country was crucial for planning effective health intervention to arrest the HIV epidemic and ultimately rid the country of this health threat.He noted that the NAIIS was in line with the federal government’s determination of ensuring sustainable solutions to the nation’s development challenges.He also observed that the survey and its results had come at the right time as the government commenced the full implementation of the National Health Act that would ensure that every Nigerian has access to comprehensive health services.Buhari revealed that the survey was designed to provide the data needed to plan adequately and consolidate on the progress towards the elimination of HIV in Nigeria.“We are already a step ahead in this regard, as the federal government has ensured that the HIV treatment programme in Taraba and Abia is properly funded this year and accommodation made to resource future expansions in the coming years,’’ he said.He, therefore, noted that the survey had provided government with the crucial information needed to enable the national HIV response to move forward and plan for a more sustainable and accountable programme based on credible scientific data.Buhari described as a welcome development the move by the Nigerian private sector to establish a National HIV Trust Fund in the coming months to support the nation’s goal of ensuring that all Nigerians have access to high quality HIV treatment and prevention services.“I am delighted that these more accurate figures indicate that fewer Nigerians are affected by HIV.“However, we cannot celebrate yet, as almost a million Nigerians living with HIV are currently not on treatment.“Now that we have data that will help us target for impact, I urge all us not to relent in this fight, but to increase the momentum in a concerted effort to end the epidemic ahead of 2030.“I also welcome the move by the Nigerian private sector to establish a National HIV Trust Fund in the coming months to support our goal of ensuring that all Nigerians have access to high quality HIV treatment and prevention services,’’ he said.Buhari, however, stressed the need for a coordinated and funded national response so as to achieve epidemic control and end AIDs in Nigeria.He maintained that the federal government was determined to progressively add 50,000 Nigerians on treatment of the virus every year using government resources.“As we mark this important day in the nation’s HIV response, I will like to reiterate the commitment I made at the UN General Assembly in 2017 to progressively add 50,000 Nigerians on treatment every year using government resources.“Now that we have data that will help us target for impact, I urge all us not to relent in this fight, but to increase the momentum in a concerted effort to end the epidemic ahead of 2030.“I also welcome the move by the Nigerian private sector to establish a National HIV Trust Fund in the coming months to support our goal of ensuring that all Nigerians have access to high quality HIV treatment and prevention services.’’He directed NACA and the federal ministry of health to undertake detailed consultations and consensus building with key sectoral ministries, the legislature, governors of high prevalence states, the development partner and civil society to chart a new strategic path, building on the results of this survey.“To guide this process, we are issuing today a `Revised National HIV/AIDS Strategic Framework’ document,’’ he said.Buhari expressed optimism that the end of AIDS “as a public health threat by 2030 is truly in sight for our country.“Let us therefore work collectively and push for the last mile’’.The Director-General, NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu, revealed that the survey was the largest single specific survey in the world and was achieved in record time of nine months.He revealed that Nigeria had dropped from number two to number four on the ranking of countries with highest HIV prevalence in the world.According to him, Nigeria is behind South Africa, Mozambique and India.Aliyu thanked the president, development partners and other stakeholders for their support toward ensuring the successful conduct of the survey.The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, also noted that the survey was actualised as a result of partnership with key stakeholders.In a good will message, the Executive Director of UNAIDs, Mr Michael Sidibea, commended the political will demonstrated by Nigeria to carry out the survey. (NAN)
http://storiya.com/2019/03/12/25375-menendez-booker-announce-1m-in-federal-funding-to-support-hivaids-treatment/

Menendez, Booker announce $1M in federal funding to support HIV/AIDS treatment

U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both Democrats from New Jersey, announced on Monday that Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark was awarded $1,084,896 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support their outpatient center that provides comprehensive care and treatment to individuals living with HIV/AIDS.“We must do all we can to help ensure individuals living with HIV/AIDS have access to the critical treatment and services they need to survive,” said Menendez in a statement. “I’m pleased that this funding will allow Rutgers Medical School to continue its vigorous efforts to provide New Jerseyans living with HIV/AIDS with the comprehensive treatment they need and deserve.”Booker said that for the thousands of New Jerseyans living with HIV/AIDS, it is important to remain committed to delivering the comprehensive care that patients need and deserve. “This federal funding will help improve access to early intervention services and provide the critical support necessary for all patients impacted by the disease,” said Booker.Established in 1990, the Ryan White program focuses on community-based, early intervention and primary health care services for low-income and uninsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
http://storiya.com/2019/03/06/29281-international-aids-society-hails-news-of-hiv-free-patient/

International Aids Society hails news of HIV free patient –

ADVERTISEMENTThe International AIDS Society (IAS) has welcomed the announcement that a United Kingdom patient’s HIV has become “undetectable” following a stem cell transplant.Researchers from University College London (UCL) announced this week that the HIV-positive man referred to as “London Patient” has remained in HIV remission off antiretroviral therapy (ART), 19 months after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a CCR5 negative donor for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.ADVERTISEMENTThey made the announcement at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) being held in Seattle, United States of America.The International AIDS Society (IAS) in a statement yesterday said though there are some differences, the London case mirrors that of the Berlin Patient, Timothy Brown, who has remained free of HIV and off ART since a bone marrow transplant 12 years ago and, until now, was the only adult considered to be cured of HIV.ADVERTISEMENTThe statement quoted IAS President Anton Pozniak as saying “This is the second reported case of prolonged remission off antiretroviral therapy (ART) post bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5 negative donor. Although it is not a viable large-scale strategy for a cure, it does represent a critical moment in the search for an HIV cure. These new findings reaffirm our belief that there exists a proof of concept that HIV is curable. The hope is that this will eventually lead to a safe, cost-effective and easy strategy to achieve these results using gene technology or antibody techniques.”“The so-called London Patient has now been off ART for 19 months with no viral rebound which is impressive, but I would still be closely monitoring his viral load,” Sharon Lewin, IAS Governing Council Member and Co-Chair of the Towards an HIV Cure initiative, said. “However, this is a long time to be in remission off ART’’.“Coming 10 years after the successful report of the Berlin Patient, this new case confirms that bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5-negative donor can eliminate residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding. Two factors are likely at play – the new bone marrow is resistant to HIV and also the new bone marrow is actively eliminating any HIV-infected cells through something called graft versus host disease. There are similarities with the Berlin Patient case, but there are also differences”, Lewin added.Mark Dybul, Co-Chair of the Towards an HIV Cure initiative, said in spite of the great success of ART, there remains a high need for a cure for HIV, especially in low-income settings. “This case is as important as it is exciting. There is still more to discover.”
http://storiya.com/2019/03/05/52875-aids-in-key-dates/

AIDS in key dates

AIDS emerged as a mysterious disease in the 1980s to spread across the world and claim millions of lives. For only the second time a patient has now been found in long-term remission — and most likely cured — from HIV, the virus that causes the disease.World AIDS Day: FG mulls local production of antiretroviral drugsHere is a look at the trajectory of the fight against the deadly condition:– 1981: First alert –In June 1981 US epidemiologists report five cases of a rare form of pneumonia in gay men from California, some of whom had died. Unusual versions of skin cancer are identified in others.It is the first alert about Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), still unknown and unnamed.Doctors identify “opportunistic infections” among injected drug-users (late 1981), haemophiliacs (mid-1982) and Haitian residents in the United States (mid-1982).The term AIDS appears for the first time in 1982.– 1983: Identifying HIV –In January 1983 researchers in France, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Jean-Claude Chermann, working under Luc Montagnier, identify the virus that “might be” responsible for AIDS. It is dubbed LAV.The following year, US specialist Robert Gallo is said to have found the “probable” cause of AIDS, the retrovirus HTLV-III.The two viruses turn out to be one and the same, and in May 1986 it becomes officially known as the human immuno-deficiency virus, or HIV.Barre-Sinoussi and Montagnier win a Nobel prize in 2008 for their discovery.– 1987: Anti-retroviral treatment –In March 1987, the first anti-retroviral treatment known as AZT is authorised in the United States. It is expensive and has many side effects.The World Health Organization (WHO) declares December 1, 1988 the first World AIDS Day, to raise awareness. In June 1989, the number of AIDS cases worldwide is estimated at more than 150,000.– Early 90s: Falling stars –US actor Rock Hudson is the first high-profile AIDS death in October 1985. A host of other stars succumb to the disease, including British singer and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (November 1991) and Russian dancer-choreographer Rudolf Nureyev (January 1993).In 1994, AIDS becomes the leading cause of death among Americans aged between 25 and 44.– 1995-96: New approach –A new class of drugs signals the start of combinations of different anti-retroviral therapies.Called tri-therapies, they provide the first effective treatment for HIV although they are not a cure and remain costly.In the United States 1996 is the first year in which the number of AIDS deaths declines.– 1999: 50 million infections –A report released by WHO and the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) in November 1999 estimates the number of people infected with HIV since it first appeared at 50 million, of whom 16 million have died.Africa is the hardest-hit continent, with 12.2 million cases.– 2003: Life-saving PEPFAR –In February 2003, US president George W. Bush launches the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, to combat the spread of AIDS in 15 of the hardest-hit areas of Africa and the Caribbean.With an initial budget of $15 billion over its first five years, PEPFAR had by 2018 committed $70 billion to the AIDS response.– 2009: The ‘Berlin Patient’ –The first known patient cured of HIV is announced. The “Berlin Patient”, later named as American Timothy Brown, underwent two transplants of bone marrow containing a mutation of a gene that blocks HIV from attacking host cells.He underwent total body irradiation to treat leukaemia and nearly did not survive the process.– 2012: HIV ‘shield’ –In July 2012, the first-ever daily pill to help prevent HIV infection is approved by US regulators. Truvada is a pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, taken by high-risk persons who are HIV-negative in order to prevent them from being infected.– 2017: Treatment spreads –For the first time ever, more than half of the global population living with HIV are receiving anti-retroviral treatment, UNAIDS reports in its latest data released in 2017.There were 36.9 million people living with HIV globally in 2017 according to UNAIDS in its latest annual figures. Since the start of the epidemic 35.4 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses.– 2019: The ‘London Patient’ –The second patient with sustained HIV suppression is reported after undergoing a transplant of stem cells with the same mutation as in the Berlin case.Regular testing has confirmed that the patient’s viral load remained undetectable for 19 months and counting.
http://storiya.com/2019/03/05/71372-london-patient-cleared-of-hiv-raises-hope-for-cure/

London Patient cleared of HIV raises hope for cure –

ADVERTISEMENTAn HIV-positive positive patient in London has been cleared of the virus after getting a bone marrow transplant to treat lymphoma, raising hopes for possible cure through stem cell transplant.He has remained in HIV remission despite being taken off antiretroviral therapy, 19 months after the bone marrow transplant from a CCR5 negative donor for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.ADVERTISEMENTThe man simply identified yet as “London Patient” is the second person to have the undetectable viral load.The first was Berlin Patient, Timothy Brown, who has remained free of HIV and off ART since a similar bone marrow transplant 12 years ago.ADVERTISEMENTHe’s being the only one thought to have been cured of HIV.Researchers from University College London announced the finding at the annual conference of retroviruses and opportunistic infections (CROI) ongoing in Seattle, USA this week.But they have stopped short of calling it a cure.The International AIDS Society has welcomed the announcement.“Although it is not a viable large-scale strategy for a cure, it does represent a critical moment in the search for an HIV cure,” IAS president Anton Pozniak.“These new findings reaffirm our belief that there exists a proof of concept that HIV is curable. The hope is that this will eventually lead to a safe, cost-effective and easy strategy to achieve these results using gene technology or antibody techniques.”Reading the differencesThe London Patient mirrors the Berlin Patient Brown but there are differences.Brown in 2007 was an HIV-positive man with acute myeloid leukaemia, a type of blood cancer that begins in the very cells that become the white blood cells.He received a bone marrow transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to HIV infection. The transplant involved stem cells—cells that are capable of producing more of itself and then grouping to become any other type of cell or tissue through a process called differentiation.The donor was resistant because of a mutation in his CCR5 gene. The CCR5 is a critical protein that must be present for HIV to be able to enter and infect cells.A mutation in the door’s CCR5 gene stops HIV entering. Bone marrow from a similarly CCR5 negative donor was given to the “London Patient”.He had Lodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that begins in lymphocytes—the white blood cells that help fight off disease.Brown stopped taking ART after the transplant and has now been free of readily detectible virus for 12 years—meaning: he is cured.“The so-called London Patient has now been off ART for 19 months with no viral rebound which is impressive, but I would still be closely monitoring his viral load,” Sharon Lewin, IAS Governing Council Member and Co-Chair of the Towards an HIV Cure initiative, said.“However, this is a long time to be in remission off ART’’.“Coming 10 years after the successful report of the Berlin Patient, this new case confirms that bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5-negative donor can eliminate residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding.”Experts say two factors are likely at play.One, the new bone marrow given to the London Patient is resistant to HIVTwo, the new bone marrow—which is where blood cells are made—is actively eliminating new HIV-infected cells.The London Patient has not been named yet, but Brown hopes both men will meet one day, but just not yet on account of publicity concerns.“I would like to meet the London Patient. I would say, ‘take your time and if you want to become public, do it’. It is not really a burden that I am going through, with media and stuff like that. It is actually fun, you can share in the fun,” he told the Guardian UK.He noted his own journey with HIV and cancer has been “useful for science and giving hope to HIV-positive people.”
http://storiya.com/2019/03/04/82942-namibia-usaid-provides-n240-million-for-hiv-prevention/

Namibia: USAID Provides N$240 Million for HIV Prevention

THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has given N$240 million towards a programme that seeks to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in Namibia.The Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) programme will provide comprehensive solutions empowering young women from the Oshikoto, Khomas and Zambezi regions to remain HIV-free and achieve their full potential.In a speech read on his behalf at an event at Ekulo Secondary School in Omuthiya, Oshikoto region on Friday, USAID Country Representative Randy Kolstad said DREAMS provides solutions that go beyond traditional health services to address risk factors such as dropping out of school, social isolation, economic disadvantage and gender-based violence (GBV).He emphasised that by September this year, the programme is expected to reach 15 000 adolescent girls and young women with HIV and GBV prevention education packages, at both school and community level."DREAMS cannot remove all the challenges from adolescent girls and young women's paths. However, it can give them tools to overcome them," he said.Kolstad noted that a total of 32 schools in the Oshikoto region would benefit from the programme and 20 facilitators were trained to provide economic strengthening skills among the target group in the region.He further said the programme would reach out to 10 000 orphans and vulnerable girls and women between ages 10 and 24 with services such as food security, psychological care, family support, legal and child protection.Other services include counselling on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for adolescent girls and young women at risk of HIV infection.The DREAMS programme is funded by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) through USAID throughout five years. - Nampa