Remarks by U.S. Embassy PEPFAR Acting Country Coordinator Daphyne Williams
National Commemoration of World AIDS Day
Olympia Africa, Kasangula Road, Lusaka, Zambia
December 3, 2019
(as prepared for delivery)
Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, Honorable Minister of Health
Honorable Bowman Lusambo, Minister of Lusaka Province
Your Worship Miles Sampa, Mayor of the City of Lusaka
Dr. Coumba Mar Gardio, United Nations Resident Coordinator
Fellow Diplomatic Colleagues
Foreign Dignitaries and Distinguished Invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
All other protocols observed
Today, we celebrate and honor the impact communities make in ending HIV. Community by community, Zambia has made impressive achievements towards reaching HIV epidemic control. Last week, Ambassador Foote visited Mandevu and witnessed a model of a community taking the fight to HIV with the opening of its marketplace/community health post. Everyone must get involved because reaching epidemic control will shine the light on a new goal—ending HIV once and for all. Let’s make Zambia a place where no one gets HIV, and no one dies of AIDS related complications.
Compared to where we were 15 years ago, the number of deaths from AIDS-related complications has dramatically fallen. People living with HIV and with virus well under control thanks to breakthroughs in medicine can have normal relationships with partners and not pass on the virus. Babies born to HIV-positive mothers can be HIV-negative. Looking at the big picture, one million Zambians have access to lifesaving HIV treatment—allowing them to live longer, healthier lives. That is where Zambia is today.
The U.S. government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, more commonly known as PEPFAR, has contributed more than $4 billion towards the Zambia’s nationwide HIV response, including $421 million in support in this fiscal year alone. PEPFAR invests in Zambia to save lives, hundreds of thousands of lives, and it demonstrates the commitment and generosity of the American people to ensure a strong and healthy future for Zambia. PEPFAR is more than an HIV treatment program, PEPFAR works in and with communities to strengthen and enhance the treatment goals, just like this year’s theme. PEPFAR also funds HIV prevention programs, strengthens Zambian health facilities, and supports orphans and vulnerable children that have been affected by HIV. As you may know, PEPFAR Zambia received an additional $14 million this year to help communities of faith and community organizations to encourage their members to get tested and to get their children tested and to stay on treatment.
Earlier, I mentioned the impact of strengthened communities on HIV control through the Ambassador’s visit to Mandevu. In that market, the community came together to encourage each other to get on treatment and to stay on treatment. Like this site, communities have the power to make a positive impact simply by caring more. Communities can eliminate HIV stigma, which will erase the invisible barriers that prevent Zambians from finding out their status and receiving treatment if necessary. We are proud of these investments, of our partnership with the Zambian government, and of the progress made to date.
Zambia’s theme for World AIDS Day 2019 is “Communities making a difference pressing towards ending AIDS.” Here’s why that is such a remarkable and appropriate theme:
- Communities have made a huge difference already and are the reason Zambia is so close to epidemic control.
- Communities where there is a united message, eliminate false rumors and seek to empower their members with clear information are helping to end HIV. Cultural, political, religious, and familial voices must join together to ensure the message our youth are receiving is the same at home, school, and church.
- Communities who support their family members, their friends, and their neighbors who are living with HIV are the communities that are ending AIDS in their communities. These communities do not tolerate sexual and gender-based violence or child marriages. They encourage communities to foster an environment that supports knowing your HIV status and starting and staying on treatment if positive.
So, let’s stand by our communities and get the job done.
I would like to thank the government of Zambia, in particular the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Chilufya, for Zambia’s continued partnership and leadership. Epidemic control depends on each of us. Don’t stand on the sidelines.