The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) today announced a $4 million, two-year partnership to accelerate progress toward controlling the AIDS epidemic through innovative strategies to reach men aged 25-40 with HIV prevention and treatment services in Malawi.
The partnership will focus on supporting the 90/90/90 UNAIDS treatment targets by working with HIV service delivery organizations on pioneering approaches in HIV testing, treatment, and linkages to care for males in Malawi. In Malawi and many other countries, data show that men often access HIV testing at far lower rates than do women. As a result, men living with HIV often enter care with more advanced disease, are less likely to receive lifesaving ART, miss opportunities to prevent ongoing transmission, and have higher AIDS-related mortality than their female counterparts.
Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, said: “We have made tremendous progress in the global AIDS response, but we are falling short in identifying and serving populations with unique needs, including men. We must invest in innovative approaches to reach those who too often go untested, undiagnosed, and untreated for HIV. Through this exciting new partnership with The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, we will deliver high-quality, life-saving HIV services for more working-age men in one of the highest burden districts in Malawi.”
The partnership was announced live on ABC’s The View earlier this morning. Show host Whoopi Goldberg, an Ambassador of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, recently held a dinner to raise awareness for ETAF’s work, which sparked collaborative conversation and inspired increased investment in the Mulanje District of Malawi, an HIV hotspot where ETAF has funded programs since 2008.
“It was remarkable for me to shine a spotlight on these vital issues with key leaders in my home,” Whoopi Goldberg said in a statement. “To see my friend’s foundation continuing on, and collaborating with a U.S. government initiative that has committed more to combatting a single disease than any other nation in the world really moved me. I know that evening would have made Elizabeth very proud.”
Through the partnership, PEPFAR and ETAF will work closely in the Mulanje District to identify and serve HIV positive men through home- and community-based approaches, linking them to treatment and care.
Joel Goldman, Managing Director of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation said: “When the GAIA Elizabeth Taylor Mobile Health Clinic program began working in Mulanje District eight years ago, less than 10% of villagers were within an hour’s walk to healthcare. Today, 84% of villages are within a one hour walk to healthcare, allowing our mobile clinics to support over one million patient visits. We now have the infrastructure in place to test and treat everyone in Mulanje District. PEPFAR’s investment will help us reach more adolescent and adult men, the population our implementing partner has struggled to get to. By scaling up our men’s focused programs in concert with the District Health Office, we can achieve 90/90/90 in Mulanje.”
Through innovative approaches including mobile clinics and door-to-door household level testing, the partnership aims to improve the ratio of men accessing timely HIV services, providing a model for replication in harder-to-serve regions. Men often only visit health service centers when they already are very ill. The use of mobile clinics and household testing offer opportunities to engage with men earlier, increasing their rates of HIV testing and improving their adherence on antiretroviral treatment.
Photo Credit: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation