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Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard – Remarks During the Launch of the HIV Trust Fund (HTF)
Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja, Nigeria
February 1, 2022

Your Excellency, Mr. President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President, Honorable Ministers, diplomatic colleagues, luminaries of Nigeria’s health sector and the private sector.  It is a pleasure to be here to mark another milestone in Nigeria’s road to HIV epidemic control.  Today’s inauguration of the HIV Trust Fund creates an opportunity to bring Nigeria’s dynamic private sector into efforts to expand domestic investment in HIV control.

Since 2003, the U.S. President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has invested more than $6 billion in the national HIV response.  We currently provide roughly $400 million per year in a program focused on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment and HIV care services to over 1.6 million Nigerians.  This achievement is the result of the compassion and generosity of the American people and a consistent commitment across many U.S. administrations to fight HIV with host governments and Global Fund partners.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic did not slow our march toward controlling HIV.  On the contrary, our data-based, targeted surge activities put more than 500,000 Nigerian on life saving treatment since we launched in late 2019.  We did this in partnership with governors of high burden states, who joined us in meeting the challenge of identifying people living with HIV.  The next phase of our game plan is to sustain these gains by ensuring funding gaps are filled to keep people living with HIV on treatment.

This requires mobilizing domestic resources and pooling them for high quality, equitable HIV services from the government and other contributors, such as health insurance, to closing this funding gap.  Our placement of people on treatment means that they can contribute to the development and prosperity of their country.  The United States remains committed to supporting Nigeria in reaching and sustaining HIV epidemic control, but we also believe that national ownership is critical to its success.

This is where the private sector, which depends on a healthy workforce, comes in.  The HIV Trust Fund represents a major component of the government’s resource mobilization strategy.  Private sector support for HIV is critical to sustaining current programs, particularly for commodities such as test kits and drugs.

The United States applauds the National Agency for the Control of AIDS and the National AIDS/STI Control Program for its forward thinking in mobilizing private sector support through the HIV Trust Fund.  I urge all of you gathered here today to ensure these efforts are fully resourced and operationalized.  We are excited to have new partners in the fight against HIV and increased government ownership of the care and treatment of the 1.6 million Nigerians we now support.  These Nigerians will need treatment for life.  By getting tested and treated, they have put Nigeria on the verge of epidemic control.  We cannot let them down!