2016 World AIDS Day Program Remarks by U.S. Consul General F. John Bray

Thank you for coming today to observe World Aids Day with us.

As many of you know, the theme for World AIDS Day 2016 is: “Leadership. Commitment.Impact.”

I want to assure you of the U.S. government’s unwavering commitment in supporting partner countries to control their epidemics, and our focus on ensuring every dollar invested has the greatest impact for those in need.

I want to welcome in particular several of our partners:

  • Lagos State AIDS Control Agency for conducting a state-wide aggressive campaign, counselling and HIV/AIDS testing through your mobile clinic initiative. Your determination to ensure a zero prevalence of HIV in Lagos state aligns with the strategic plan of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
  • Society for Family Health for providing quality health services to Nigerians, particularly the poor and vulnerable. Your efforts in expanding access to HIV testing and counselling services to cover all the states in Nigeria with focus on the prevention of mother to child transmission are commendable.
  • Treatment Action Movement for providing inspiration and great support for people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
  • Undergraduate students from the University of Lagos and Covenant University, and
  • Representatives of faith-based organizations and the press.

The United States and Nigeria enjoy a strong relationship based on our many shared interests.

In the case of HIV/AIDS both countries have pledged to work to eradicate HIV/AIDs and are committed to providing high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.

The United States government continues to refine and re-focus its programs.

In late 2015 the United States federal government updated its National HIV/AIDS strategy to extend to 2020.  The four primary goals remain:

  • Reducing the number of people who become infected with HIV
  • Increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV
  • Reducing HIV-related health disparities
  • Achieving a more coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic.

The Nigerian government is also working to achieve its objective of providing high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.

As some of you may know, last week the Nigerian federal government launched a simplified version of its HIV anti-discrimination act to strengthen the Nigerian HIV response system which is geared towards stopping HIV related stigma by 2020 and eliminating the disease by 2030.

The United States government’s commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic cannot be overstated. We invest with our voices, our capacity, and our dollars. PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history.

Through PEPFAR, we are maximizing our impact by making smart investments to reach those most at risk and in need – preventing millions of new HIV infections and saving millions of lives. PEPFAR is using data to invest in evidence-based interventions in the geographic areas and populations with the greatest HIV/AIDS burden and accelerating country progress toward achieving epidemic control.

The U.S. government agencies working in Nigeria as part of PEPFAR are:

  • United States Agency for International Agency for Development
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Department of Disease
  • U.S. Embassy and Consulate, Public Affairs Sections

Since its inception in Nigeria in 2004, PEPFAR has disbursed more than 3.4 billion dollars to support the Nigerian HIV/AIDS response.

Some measures of success include:

  • 600,000 men, women, and children (90 percent of the people living with HIV/AIDs) are currently on HIV treatment
  • 8.7 million people have received HIV counseling and testing
  • More than 55,000 pregnant women have been provided anti-retroviral drugs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
  • 750,000 adults and children living with the HIV/AIDs have received care to support quality of life
  • 700,000 children orphaned by AIDS have received care and support.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense HIV Program in Nigeria is working to increase the capacity of the Nigerian military medical system to treat and prevent HIV infection among members of the military, their families, and their surrounding communities.  Uniformed officers from the U.S. military forces work side by side with their colleagues from the Nigerian military to provide services.  This partnership has become a model for the implementation of a coordinated approach throughout the world.

As for the Public Affairs sections, they organized this event.  They focus primarily on raising awareness and encouraging and supporting groups like yours.

Before PEPFAR, HIV infection was a death sentence in Nigeria and in Africa in general, with entire villages being wiped out in some places.  At that time less than 5,000 Nigerians, supported solely by the Nigerian government, were on treatment.

Through the contributions of the U.S. and Nigerian governments, the United Nations family, Global Fund, private sector, faith-based community, civil society, and other partners we can end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. We have the tools and the data to deliver on this promise, but it will not happen automatically or easily.

We must not only drive toward controlling the AIDS epidemic but also ensure the long-term sustainability of national HIV/AIDS programs. PEPFAR is using our Sustainability Index and Dashboard (SID) to track, assess, and improve our investments toward strengthening sustainability.

We must come together as a global community – with urgency, focus, and transparency – to achieve an AIDS-free generation where no one is left behind. One key aspect of transparency is making granular data available. PEPFAR is helping lead the way in this area by making our quarterly program results available for everyone to see and use.

As President Obama said, “we are not done yet” fighting HIV/AIDS. As Secretary explained, “The United States is committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation.  “We can and we will defeat this horrific disease, and that is a charge worth fighting to keep.”