In November 1993, Mr. David Ngele became the first Motswana to openly disclose he was living with HIV. Over the past 25 years, a few more have followed him in making public disclosures, though they represent a very small percentage of the current estimated number of 360,000 Batswana living with HIV. Those who have taken this courageous decision have continued to work at the frontlines of the HIV response. Many of them have stated that the virus has been less oppressive than the stigma attached to it. While public displays of stigma and discrimination are not as frequent and visible as in years past, many people have had to endure incredibly painful experiences of being stigmatized because of their HIV status, often by the same family and friends whom they looked to for love and acceptance. The Midweek Sun has recently published some personal accounts of these experiences by Stanley Monageng and Kennedy Mupeli. In order to support these brave men and women in their heroic efforts, PEPFAR has funded BONEPWA+ to implement the Treat All Champions Campaign which has enlisted 30 people living openly with HIV to mobilize their communities to address stigma, along with other barriers that prevent Batswana from knowing their status, and enrolling on ARV treatment when diagnosed with HIV. Through the Treat All Strategy launched by H.E. President Khama in 2016, all Batswana living with HIV now have the opportunity to enroll on ARV treatment regardless of their CD4 count.
PEPFAR: 15 Years of Saving Lives
In 2018, PEPFAR is celebrating its 15th anniversary with the theme “15 Years of Saving Lives through American Generosity and Partnerships.” Over the past 15 years, the U.S. government, through PEPFAR has not only saved and improved millions of lives, but also transformed the global HIV/AIDS response. When PEPFAR began in 2003, only 50,000 people in Africa were on lifesaving ARV treatment. As of 30 September 2017, PEPFAR supports more than 13.3 million people on HIV treatment globally, has ensured 2.2 million babies were born without contracting HIV, and provides care and support to more than 6.4 million orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers. Through PEPFAR’s Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control, as many as 13 countries (including Botswana) could achieve epidemic control by 2020. Since 2004, PEPFAR has supported the Government of Botswana with $950 million dollars for HIV prevention, care and treatment services, programs for orphans and vulnerable children, gender-based violence initiatives, and health services for female sex workers and men who have sex with men.
What is PEPFAR?
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is a U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world. Since 2004, PEPFAR has provided Botswana with more than $950 million in funding to support HIV prevention, care and treatment services, programs for orphan and vulnerable children, gender-based violence initiatives, and health services for female sex workers (FSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM). In order to achieve HIV/AIDS epidemic control by 2020, PEPFAR is supporting the Government of Botswana to achieve the 90-90-90 Goals within every age group of both males and females. The 90-90-90 Goals mean that 90% of people with HIV are diagnosed, 90% of those diagnosed begin antiretroviral treatment (ART), and 90% of those on treatment maintain viral suppression. PEPFAR is implementing specific strategies to address the largest gaps which exist primarily in youth aged 15-24 years and men over 30.