This year’s expansion of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is dramatically improving access to treatment for Sierra Leoneans living with HIV in the country.
This was made known by the US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown on the 11th February 2022 marking the end of a five-day training programme that was conducted for health workers to Mann 15 new facilities that they are adding in the country. The training was geared towards mentoring health workers on comprehensive HIV prevention, care, and treatment.
He informed the audience that U.S. support of expanded treatment facilities and accessibility will enable Sierra Leone to meet the UNAIDS global goal of 95% of people living with HIV should know their status.
The Ambassador continued that 95% of those who know their status are on treatment; and 95% of those on treatment will have achieved viral suppression by 2030. He disclosed further how three additional U.S.-sponsored training sessions are planned for health facilities across four districts.
Speaking to participants of the training session, the United States Ambassador, David Reimer stated, “This training, and the site level support that will follow, will enable you to improve the services and outcomes in your communities, and contribute to the rapidly improving National HIV Response.”
He further disclosed that PEPFAR is now in its second year of support to Sierra Leone maintaining that due to the program’s success in its first year, the United States has nearly doubled funding for the program this year to $9 million.
“Last year, PEPFAR supported 15 high volume sites in four districts which are the Western Urban, Western Rural, Port Loko, and Kambia,” he stated adding how this year that support will be extended to an additional 15 sites.
He pointed out that PEPFAR is the Global Fund to Fight HIV, TB, and Malaria, for which the U.S. Government is the largest donor, and the Government of Sierra Leone, collectively implements the National HIV Response in Sierra Leone disclosing that the collaboration continues to deliver impressive progress for Sierra Leone.
It must be noted that Sierra Leone has an estimated 80,000 people living with HIV. Between 2020 to 2021, PEPFAR increased the number of people receiving treatment for HIV by over 20% and they hope to continue the trend of increasing the number of people receiving treatment.
Worthy of consideration is that once on treatment, most clients achieve viral suppression, which enables them to live a healthy life while also preventing them from transmitting HIV to someone else.
Other stakeholders present during the event made salient contributions during the program.