World AIDS Day 2015: The Time To Act Is Now

aidsThe U.S. theme for World AIDS Day 2015, “The Time to Act Is Now,” conveys the urgency of implementing the UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy to achieve the 90-90-90 targets and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The United States is proud to support Ghana’s leadership in the global HIV/AIDS response. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, provides technical assistance in Ghana to maximize the quality, coverage, and impact of the nation nal HIV/AIDS response, particularly among key and vulnerable populations. Since PEPFAR began operations in Ghana in 2007, the U.S. government has provided more than $100 million to support HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment services, making the United States the largest bilateral donor to Ghana’s National HIV/AIDS Response.

Specific priorities for PEPFAR Ghana in the coming year include:

Scaling up HIV combination prevention activities with a focus on key and vulnerable populations, including HIV testing and counselling and treatment retention
Strengthening linkages between community and clinical health services
Advancing human rights and reducing stigma and discrimination
Implementing cross-cutting activities to strengthen the national health system, including improving strategic monitoring and evaluation across programs and strengthening supply chain management

In particular, over the past year PEPFAR Ghana, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded the Linkages Across the Continuum of HIV Services for Key Populations Affected by HIV (LINKAGES) Project to address the delivery of comprehensive, high-quality HIV prevention, treatment and care services for Key Populations, specifically female sex workers (FSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM). To-date, USAID/LINKAGES has reached 12,209 FSW and 7,291 MSM with HIV prevention interventions, motivating nearly 70 percent of the FSW and 40 percent of MSM to get tested for HIV and also receive their results.

Through this partnership, USAID/LINKAGES is contributing technical expertise to the development of Ghana’s National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan 2016-2020 to incorporate the needs of Key Populations. The project also currently supports the rollout and dissemination of Ghana’s Key Populations Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to ensure standardization of HIV service delivery for Key Populations across all settings.

This year, PEPFAR Ghana has initiated a Key Population Implementation Science (KPIS) study to identify, implement and evaluate interventions to improve the HIV continuum of care for Key Populations. When completed, the study’s findings will be pilot tested in select Ghana Health Services (GHS) facilities to document linkages and efficiencies along the continuum of care from diagnosis to retention in treatment. We expect that this study will help increase demand for HIV services and also stimulate improvements not only for KP but for all PLHIV in accessing much-needed care.

“We can best control the epidemic by targeting the populations at greatest risk and ensuring they are enrolled in comprehensive HIV services and sustained in those services,” said Dr. Celia Woodfill, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director for Ghana and Acting PEPFAR Country Coordinator. “Overcoming the barriers that prevent key populations from receiving treatment and care is more than a challenge, it is a necessity. We cannot control the epidemic until all people have access to the life-saving care they need.”

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Melinda Tabler-Stone will represent the U.S. government at the World AIDS Day durbar in Sunyani. For more information, please contact Dzid Kwame at 054 433 7016.

Members of the media are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for more information on PEPFAR and for World AIDS Day interviews with embassy representatives and with representatives of implementing partners USAID/LINKAGES and ProLink Organization, a local NGO working with female sex workers in Ashanti, Greater Accra and Eastern regions.

About PEPFAR: The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. government has committed nearly $65 billion in order to support the HIV/AIDS response globally. Since the start of its operations in Ghana in 2007, more than $100 million has been invested working with Ghana to address this global challenge.

About the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Targets: In 2014 UNAIDS set the 90-90-90 targets, aiming that by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.


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