Accra, GHANA—The United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), joined with the government of Ghana to commemorate international World AIDS Day 2020. Both nations noted the positive progress made to reach the goal of an HIV-free generation under the theme “Stay Safe, Let’s End AIDS by 2030.”
On November 30, PEPFAR hosted an online event to review progress on its multi-stakeholder joint strategy to achieve HIV epidemic control in the Western Region and to highlight lessons learned and best practices. PEPFAR representatives, government of Ghana officials at the national and regional levels, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders attended the event. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Strengthening the Care Continuum Project, along with the Ghana AIDS Commission and Ghana Health Service launched the joint strategy in 2019 in the Western Region to significantly decrease HIV transmission and provide lifesaving drugs for those who are HIV-positive. Through a range of interventions across the HIV/AIDS continuum of services, from outreach and case finding to treatment retention and viral load suppression, the partnership has yielded impressive results and is on track to achieve epidemic control in the Western Region by October 2021.
On December 1, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan delivered remarks during the virtual World AIDS Day 2020 Forum hosted by the Ghana AIDS Commission. During her remarks, Ambassador Sullivan highlighted the proud and longstanding partnership with the government of Ghana to improve the health and well-being of Ghanaians. She also noted the continued need to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, saying “When people living with HIV feel secure and have uninterrupted access to HIV treatment, we are helping to keep them, as well as ourselves and our communities safe and resilient.” Ambassador Sullivan was joined by representatives from UNAIDS, Ghana Health Service, Ghana AIDS Commission, and the National AIDS Control Program.
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s activities and strategic partnerships support Ghana’s journey to self-reliance and advances an integrated approach to development. It promotes accountability, sustainable systems, and inclusive development.
World AIDS Day 2020
Theme: Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility; “Stay Safe, Let’s End AIDS by 2030”
Scripted Remarks for U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Greetings. My name is Stephanie Sullivan, and I’m the United States’ Ambassador to Ghana. I’m pleased to join you virtually to mark World AIDS Day 2020.
The U.S. Government has a proud and long-standing relationship with the Government of Ghana to improve the health and well-being of Ghanaians. We’ve worked closely with the Government of Ghana, civil society, and other partners for decades to combat the spread of HIV. Who can forget the 1999, social marketing campaign “If it’s not on, it’s not in!” Efforts intensified with the introduction of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (known as PEPFAR) to Ghana in 2008.
PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation in history to combat a single disease. Launched in 2003, PEPFAR has transformed HIV infection from a death sentence to a disease that we can treat and manage effectively. Through our collaboration with governments and partners from over 50 countries, we’ve shifted the narrative around the HIV/AIDS epidemic, from a global health crisis to global action to achieve HIV epidemic control and elimination.
To date, the United States has invested more than $85 billion dollars in the global HIV/AIDS response through PEPFAR and is the largest donor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Countries around the world, including Ghana, have benefited significantly from this long-term partnership.
Since 2008, through PEPFAR, the American people have provided approximately $140 million dollars to help Ghana prevent the spread of HIV and ensure sustained health of those living with the virus through effective treatment. Today, those infected with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives as long as they know their positive status and start and continue to take the treatment. The good news is that treatment that suppresses the amount of the virus detected in a patient’s blood actually prevents the transmission of the HIV virus to others! Undetectable equals untransmissible. Remember: U=U!
But effective treatment is only part of the solution. Stigma and discrimination toward people living with HIV often cause people to avoid getting tested, disclosing their status, seeking treatment, and staying on the lifesaving medication that will also stop the spread of the disease to others. When a member of our community is stigmatized or unable to access services, it threatens their livelihood, the health of their families, and the broader community. We must continue to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. They are our family members, neighbors, and friends.
Together with our partners, we support the Government of Ghana’s HIV/AIDS response to ensure that Ghanaians overcome stigma and discrimination and have access to quality HIV testing and treatment services. During the last 12 months, PEPFAR supported the Government of Ghana to test 121,332 people; diagnose 5,321 HIV-positive people; and initiate antiretroviral therapy for 4,502 people.
The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility” and Ghana has adopted the theme: “Stay Safe, Let’s End AIDS by 2030.” These two themes essentially mean that no one is safe until everyone is safe and that we must all work together to bring an end to HIV/AIDS. When people living with HIV feel secure and have uninterrupted access to HIV treatment, we’re helping to keep them, as well as ourselves and our communities safe.
We look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that Ghana achieves its vision of ending AIDS by 2030.