2015 Time to accelerate progress toward AIDS-free generation

circle of hands with red ribbons (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Activists of a non-governmental organization display red ribbons, symbol of HIV-AIDS awareness, as they pose for photographers during an awareness campaign on World AIDS Day, in a business district of Bangalore, India.

On World AIDS Day 2014, like many around the world, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) embraced the theme “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.” This theme did not set the tone for just one day, but represents a driving principle that underpinned PEPFAR’s activities in 2014 and will drive action into 2015 and beyond.

Our recent report “PEPFAR 3.0 – Controlling the Epidemic: Delivering on the Promise of an AIDS-free Generation,” documents PEPFAR’s progress and unveils how we are shifting the way we do business moving forward to maximize our collective impact on the epidemic. Specifically, PEPFAR will focus on five action agendas Impact, Efficiency, Sustainability, Human Rights, and Partnership – while strengthening existing partnerships with countries, UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We’re also building new partnerships and expanding existing ones, including the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Nike Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to accelerate progress toward an AIDS-free generation. This strategy has already spurred progress in 2014 and laid the foundation for results in 2015.

For instance, through the Impact Agenda, PEPFAR is implementing a data-driven approach that will strategically focusing on geographic areas and populations to ensure we are doing the right things, in the right places, at the right time. This means improving our site monitoring, strengthening our program quality, and scaling-up our core interventions to maximize impact on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It also means focusing on populations at greatest risk for AIDS or infection with HIV – particularly children, adolescent girls and young women – to strengthen resilience and increase access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care.

PEPFAR is working with partners to accelerate the development of new high-priority pediatric ARV co-formulations for first- and second-line treatment by 2017 through the Global Pediatric Antiretroviral (ARV) Commitment-to-Action. Further, a new $210 million public-private partnership between PEPFAR, the Nike Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will deliver innovative, evidence-based interventions to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in up to 10 Eastern and Southern African countries over the next two years.

Through the Efficiency Agenda, PEPFAR is continuing to increase data transparency in an unprecedented way, making data accessible and actionable for impact through the PEPFAR Dashboards. The Dashboards’ new and improved design makes it easier for stakeholders to view, explore and download data on program funding, expenditures, and results. Results data are now also broken down by age and/or sex, making it easier to analyze and understand the program’s impact. To advance the U.S. government’s progress toward data transparency, PEPFAR’s new $21.5 million partnership with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will establish country-based, country-driven data hubs to advance the effort to ensure data openness and transparency in the global HIV/AIDS response.

Through the Sustainability Agenda, we are expanding our partnerships to improve human resources for health and to ensure that needed training, services, systems, financing, and policies are in place to achieve and sustain epidemic control. PEPFAR’s new human resources for health strategy includes a $116.5 million investment that will strengthen the capacity of health workers to address HIV/AIDS across Africa. These investments in health systems will pay dividends for years to come with some of the world’s most fragile states as they respond to outbreaks like Ebola and other critical disease threats.

In all of these activities and others, PEPFAR remains steadfast through its Human Rights Agenda to eliminate barriers to HIV services for all people. We support the UNAIDS 90-90-90 treatment target, and PEPFAR will focus our resources to ensure 90 percent of the people in high-burden areas have access to treatment by 2020. However, stigma and discrimination, as well as hostile laws and policies threaten this ambitious effort. PEPFAR is committed to ensuring that all people have access to care, including men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, people who inject drugs, and adolescent girls and young women – it is central to achieving the 90-90-90 treatment target and to progress toward an AIDS-free Generation.

As always, partnerships remain the cornerstone of PEPFAR’s work to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic and are intrinsic to each of our agendas. Ending the epidemic is a shared responsibility that no one entity or country can achieve alone. Through our Partnership Agenda, we are working with partner countries, the private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations, and multilateral organizations to maximize synergies.

As of September 2014, through the generosity of the American people, PEPFAR is supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million men, women, and children, but our work is not done. This year promises to be a transformative year in the HIV/AIDS response, as PEPFAR works with partners to implement our strategic plan to curb the epidemic in high-burden areas. Two thousand fifteen offers us all the opportunity to accelerate progress toward an AIDS-free generation with increased emphasis on collaboration to achieve impact.