Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary | Behind the Scenes PhotosAbout the Author: Ambassador Eric Goosby serves as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, leading all U.S. Government international HIV/AIDS efforts.
This week, I had the honor of joining Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on her visits to Angola and South Africa, two stops on her seven-nation trip to Africa. The fight against global AIDS is a central piece of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy and global health agenda, and a key theme of this trip.
As the Secretary traveled across Africa, we saw how the U.S. Government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is working in partnership with nations around the world to combat HIV/AIDS.
On Monday, I was present at the “Hope” hospital in Luanda as Secretary Clinton and Angolan Minister of External Relations Assunção Afonso dos Anjos signed the Angola Partnership Framework to Combat HIV/AIDS. Through this five-year strategic plan, our governments will work together to position Angola to address its HIV epidemic over the long haul, supporting the national HIV/AIDS strategy through service delivery, policy reform, and coordinated financial commitments.
Inside the hospital HIV/AIDS clinic, Secretary Clinton visited with the clinic’s patients and staff. In addition to speaking about the partnership between Angola and the United States, the Secretary emphasized the need for an intensified focus on women as an access point to family-centered care, and the need to aggressively intensify HIV prevention efforts. Secretary Clinton and I see our partnership with Angola as an opportunity to prevent a saturation of HIV in high-risk communities.
Partnership Frameworks, such as the one signed in Angola, will be tailored to each country the United States is partnering with, reflecting PEPFAR’s commitment to country-owned responses to HIV/AIDS.
Another illustration of PEPFAR’s commitment to support national leadership on HIV/AIDS came last Saturday when I joined Secretary Clinton on her visit to the Cullinan Antiretroviral Therapy Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa. The clinic, founded in September 2006, is funded jointly by the South African Government and PEPFAR and was established in response to community demand to access services locally. It caters to patients who are referred from other HIV/AIDS clinics, walk-in clients who want to know their status, and inmates of the nearby Zonderwater Prison. The site offers comprehensive HIV/AIDS services in addition to other wellness and emergency care services.
I was moved by the stories of two HIV-positive individuals at the clinic – a woman in her late 30s and a man in his late 40s. These two people spoke about receiving their diagnoses, the stigma they faced, and the toll HIV took on their health and outlook on life. But despite these hardships, they were also able to speak about coming to terms with their status, the restoration of health through treatment, and their renewed hopes for the future. Without this clinic, these two South Africans, and many others, would have to travel a significant distance to receive life-saving treatment and care services or would have had to forgo these services altogether.
Seventy percent of the services provided at Cullinan clinic are funded by the Government of South Africa, and the remaining 30 percent are supported by PEPFAR. This partnership model is very positive because, ultimately, each partner government is responsible for the health of its population. To support efforts that are both country-owned and sustainable, we must strive to place governments in a position where they lead their nation’s response – strategically and financially. Sustainability will take time, but we will be there, side-by-side, until it is possible. We must support partner governments and help them expand their capacity to manage and invest in their AIDS responses. This kind of partnership will maximize the impact and sustainability of their programs, helping their nations move toward an HIV-free future.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have pledged to continue PEPFAR’s critical work to address the HIV/AIDS crisis around the world. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with nations to build upon our shared successes to date.