This year, we mark the 20th anniversary of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced on January 28, 2003, by President George W. Bush. PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease. PEPFAR is saving lives through compassionate, cost-effective, accountable, and transparent assistance.
On the 35th World AIDS Day, the U.S. government’s theme is “World AIDS Day 35: Remember and Commit.” This theme presents an opportunity to reflect on the progress collectively made with partners and to commit to the actions needed to end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
PEPFAR in Zimbabwe
- When PEPFAR began in 2003, HIV/AIDS was devastating Zimbabwe. More than 30 percent of the adult population were infected with HIV. More than 330 people were dying every day, leaving generations of orphans. But today, thanks to two decades of support from PEPFAR and other donors as well as community and host government efforts, Zimbabwe is on the brink of HIV epidemic control.
- Of the 1.3 million Zimbabweans living with HIV, more than 1.2 million are now on life-saving HIV treatment thanks to PEPFAR and support from other donors. Amazingly, 97% of those on treatment have also achieved viral suppression, meaning they can no longer transmit the virus to their partners if they continue to take their treatment.
- PEPFAR is led by the U.S. State Department and its programs are implemented through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PEPFAR collaborates with key partners, including the Government of Zimbabwe; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; civil society organizations; and other bilateral and multilateral health development partners such as UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- The U.S government has invested over $1.7 billion in Zimbabwe since 2006 to strengthen health systems and support people living with HIV, helping Zimbabweans live longer and healthier lives. In 2023 alone, PEPFAR has invested more than $200 million to fund and deliver HIV/AIDS programs in Zimbabwe and save Zimbabwean lives.
- Health care worker support: PEPFAR contributes nearly $90 million annually to support salary and incentives for 21,700 healthcare workers in Zimbabwe including nurses, laboratory scientists, social workers, and community health workers to deliver and improve HIV prevention, care, and treatment services.
In financial year 2023, PEPFAR provided:
- HIV testing services for nearly 1.25 million people;
- Cervical cancer screening services for more than 239,572 women living with HIV;
- Viral load testing for more than 867,413 people living with HIV;
- Tuberculosis (TB) preventive treatment for more than 207,661 people living with HIV;
- Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – 99,053 individuals were newly enrolled on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection;
- Voluntary medical male circumcision for 133,028 adolescent boys and men to reduce the risk of contracting HIV;
- Since 2015, PEPFAR has supported HIV prevention services to more than one million at-risk adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) between the ages of 10 to 24 through DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe) partnerships. Nearly 244,00 AGYW received DREAMS services in 16 districts of Zimbabwe in FY2023 alone. DREAMS support includes HIV prevention, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to help prevent them from contracting HIV, economic strengthening initiatives, educational subsidies, and complementary services for orphans and vulnerable children.
- Health System Strengthening: PEPFAR has a history of providing essential support, including laboratory and surveillance strengthening, supply chain, electronic health records, and human resources, to Zimbabwe’s health system. Such programs became the foundation of the COVID-19 response, and technical assistance from PEPFAR has shifted to support key roles in helping the country formulate sound public health policies and procedures including the response to pandemics and other emergencies.
- Community-Led Monitoring: The U.S. government is supporting local communities and community-based organizations in Zimbabwe to actively monitor HIV health services and use data to advocate for continual improvements in health service delivery. Communities are being empowered to increase health literacy among patients and health workers, and to collect information on the status of HIV service delivery in their localities.