The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the George W. Bush Institute and the UNAIDS have announced renewed partnership to End AIDS and Cervical Cancer among HIV-positive women in Africa.
They said the renewed partnership would accelerate lifesaving efforts to help end AIDS and cervical cancer in Africa’s eight sub-Saharan African countries to commemorate Mother’s Day.
The partnership would ensure efforts were more effective and at a lower cost by refocusing on reaching HIV-positive women in eight target countries, including Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
According to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS – there are more than 3.5 million women living with HIV in these eight countries.
The U.S. Department of State said pending congressional approval, the United States would invest over 30 million dollars through the renewed partnership as well as build on the earlier successes of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon by refocusing resources and advocacy efforts for greater impact in the eight African countries to prevent cervical cancer progression and mortality among HIV-positive women.
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, Amb. Deborah Birx said PEPFAR had saved millions of women who were HIV-positive.
“Thanks to the generosity of the American people, PEPFAR has saved the lives of millions of HIV-positive women around the world. We must ensure these same women – mothers, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers – who are living with HIV and thriving do not succumb to cervical cancer.
“By focusing on eight African countries where the HIV prevalence rate in women is over 10 per cent and cervical cancer mortality among women is the highest, this partnership would accelerate our lifesaving impact,” she said.
Executive Director of the Bush Institute, Holly Kuzmich said the partnership would reach millions of people.
“Building on the success of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, the Bush Institute is thrilled to enter this renewed partnership with PEPFAR and UNAIDS, which will have an even greater impact and save more lives. Our work has saved thousands, but this partnership will reach millions.
“On the fifteenth anniversary of PEPFAR, there is not a more appropriate time to deepen our partnership and see the vision of President and Mrs. Bush come full circle – that women who survive AIDS also live full lives free of cervical cancer.”
According to UNAIDS, women who were HIV-positive were four to five times more likely to develop invasive cervical cancer.
The partnership also included an accelerated strategy for prevention, screening, and treatment that would drastically reduce cervical cancer in HIV-positive women and significantly lower nationwide cervical cancer rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
Executive Director of UNAIDS and Undersecretary General of the UN, Michel Sidibe said, “The partnership will allow us to respond to cervical cancer among women living with HIV like never before. The partnership’s new strategy, which includes cervical cancer screening every two years for women living with HIV over the age of 30, aims to reduce cervical cancer incidence by 95 percent among this population in the targeted countries.”
More than 100,000 women are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the leading killer of women, UNAIDS said.