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U.S. Consulate General, Kevin Krapf’s Remark At The 2017 World AIDS Day

Honorable Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Jide Idris; the Provost, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Professor Babatunde Solagberu. Thank you for your collaboration to organize today’s event.

Kevin Krapf, U.S. Consulate General Lagos

I would like to thank Lagos State AIDS Control Agency for conducting a state-wide aggressive campaign, counselling and HIV/AIDS testing through your mobile clinic initiative. Your           determination to ensure a zero prevalence of HIV in Lagos state aligns with the strategic           plan of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Society for Family Health for providing quality health services to Nigerians, particularly the poor and vulnerable. Your efforts in expanding access to HIV testing and counselling services to cover all the states in Nigeria with focus on the prevention of mother to child transmission are commendable.

Treatment Action Movement for providing inspiration and great support for people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

Medical students from the Lagos State University College of Medicine and the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, thank you for joining us today to be part of this conversation. Representatives of faith-based organizations and the press. The theme for World AIDS Day 2017 is “Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability and Partnerships.”

This theme reflects the U.S. government’s longstanding leadership in addressing global HIV/AIDS, increasing our impact to move epidemics from crisis toward control.  It also highlights the historic opportunity to accelerate progress toward controlling, and ultimately ending, the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a public health threat in countries around the world.  Finally, it emphasizes the critical role of transparency, accountability, and partnerships in reaching these goals.

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According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world and has one of the highest new infection rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Many people living with HIV in Nigeria are unaware of their status due to insufficient recommended number of HIV testing and counselling centers.

Low access of antiretroviral treatment remains an issue for people living with HIV in Nigeria and I welcome the new commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to use domestic funds to provide antiretroviral drugs to an additional 50,000 people living with HIV each year.

The U.S. government, through PEPFAR, has helped not only save and improve millions of lives, but also transformed the global HIV/AIDS response. Currently, more than 720,000 Nigerians are on PEPFAR-supported HIV treatment. Approximately 4 million Nigerians have received HIV counseling and testing services in 2017.

HIV prevention messages and activities have reached over 300,000 people identified as most-at-risk, and approximately 50,000 pregnant women have received antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

In Mid-November this year, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Nigeria in collaboration with its implementing partners organized a two-day symposium to examine efforts made in HIV/AIDS and TB intervention.

Through this event,  the United States Mission in Nigeria brought together relevant HIV/AIDS stakeholders in Nigeria to share innovative strategies, successes attained, lessons learned,and challenges confronting fight against HIV/AIDS epidemics during the past five-year funding cycle.

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We are at an unprecedented moment in the global HIV/AIDS response.  For the first time in modern history, we have the opportunity to change the very course of a pandemic by controlling it without a vaccine or a cure.  Controlling the pandemic will lay the groundwork for eliminating or eradicating HIV, which we hope will be possible through the future scientific breakthroughs which lead to  an effective HIV vaccine and cure.

The latest PEPFAR data from its Population-based HIV Impact Assessments (PHIAs) show that 5 high-burden African countries are already approaching control of their HIV/AIDS epidemics, something that would have once seemed impossible.

Building on this progress, at the 2017 United Nations General Assembly, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson launched the PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020).

The Strategy demonstrates both the courage of our convictions and the boldness of our ambitions.  It reaffirms that the U.S. government, through PEPFAR, will continue to support HIV/AIDS efforts toward achieving epidemic control in more than 50 countries, ensuring access to HIV services by all populations, including the most vulnerable and at-risk groups.

The U.S. government continues to lead the way in the global HIV/AIDS response.  But no one country or entity alone can end the AIDS pandemic.  We are proud to partner with partner governments, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, multilateral institutions, academic institutions, civil society and faith-based organizations, people living with HIV and many others in this work.  Through this collective effort, we also expect to reduce the future costs required to sustain the HIV/AIDS response.

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To accelerate progress toward HIV/AIDS epidemic control, PEPFAR continues to leverage the capabilities, assets, and technological know-how of the private sector, creating innovative solutions to complex problems.

The U.S. government’s leadership and commitment are a direct reflection of the goodwill, compassion, and generosity of the American people. The innovative scientific discovery and program implementation that we have supported have fueled progress toward controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic and laying the groundwork for what can be accomplished with an eventual HIV vaccine and/or cure.

In Nigeria and around the world, we are closer to controlling the HIV/AIDS pandemic than ever before – binding communities, scientists, and political leaders together to envision a very different future.  What once seemed impossible is now possible.  But our work is far from done. Through transparency, accountability, and the power of partnership, we can accelerate progress toward reaching our goals.