Ambassador Dennis W. Hearne’s Speech at AIDS Day Central Ceremony
December 30, 2021
Your Excellency Dr. Nyeleti Brooke Mondlane, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Action;
Mr. Secretary of State;
Mr. Governor of the Province
Executive Secretary of the CNCS;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. It is my distinct honor to be here with you today on World AIDS Day. Today, we re-commit ourselves to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We also take the time to pay homage to the lives lost both here in Mozambique and all over the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have done so much excellent work together so far to fight HIV/AIDS and for that I applaud you. However, we still have much work to do, especially in ensuring equitable access to quality HIV prevention and treatment services for all affected individuals regardless of their age, gender, location, or socio-economic status. The United Nations’ and the Mozambican Government both chose themes for 2021’s World AIDS Day that emphasize the importance of reaching everyone with HIV/AIDS services. The United State Government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR – also supports a national HIV response that addresses inequities that still stand in the way of prevention, testing and treatment. These inequities result in lapses in services for some, which have been exacerbated recently by the COVID-19 pandemic. We will not achieve our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic if the most vulnerable are unable to access services.
And, just as important as providing services for all is addressing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. This year, with support from the U.S. Government, the Mozambican Government launched the Somos Iguais campaign. This campaign tells the story of the more than two million HIV-positive Mozambicans who are living healthy and productive lives. We hope that those who listen to these stories on the radio or watch on television, understand that their HIV-positive neighbors are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues, and just like everyone else.
Minister Nyeleti: I am proud to be here with you today, to celebrate our accomplishments in combatting stigma, providing equitable access to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, and to publicly recommit ourselves to saving more lives. It is clear that the highest levels of the Mozambican government are firmly committed to this cause.
The number of AIDS-related deaths and number of new HIV infections each year in Mozambique are estimated to be on a sustained decline. While more than one in 10 adults and more than 130,000 children are currently living with HIV in Mozambique, the majority of them are on treatment and living full and healthy lives. We are, without a doubt, headed in the right direction.
Mozambique is at the forefront of offering new and improved HIV prevention and treatment services to every Mozambican in every province. First, HIV-negative individuals who are at high risk of becoming infected can now access medications to prevent HIV infection. Second, men over the age of 15 can seek voluntary medical male circumcision services that dramatically reduce their likelihood of contracting HIV throughout their lifetime. Third, HIV testing services have expanded all over the country and HIV self-testing is becoming more readily available. And lastly, community distribution of HIV treatment medications and the dispensing of medication for several months have made staying on HIV treatment much more convenient.
To claim these victories is a testament to what can be done when we work together to solve a problem that affects us all. As the largest bilateral donor to Mozambique, the U.S. Government is proud to have partnered with government officials and health sector leadership over decades. This year, we invested more than $400 million dollars to support the national HIV response. We have also leveraged these investments to support COVID-19 response since the onset of the pandemic, ranging from strengthening information systems and supply chain management, to improved patient care and vaccine administration. Our financial and technical resources have allowed for the delivery of COVID-19 test kits, personal protective equipment, laboratory reagents, and other essential commodities. And of course, we are proud to be the leading bi-lateral vaccine donor, having donated nearly 1.5 million single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines through the COVAX facility, with millions more on the way.
Despite decades of progress, our work is not yet finished. If, together, we confront the challenges before us with conviction and compassion, we can pave the way towards the end of the HIV epidemic here in Mozambique.
On this World AIDS Day, I ask that you join us to remember those who have passed away, support those in your community living with HIV, and encourage those around you to get tested. The U.S. government and the Health Partners Group are committed to continuing our partnership with the people and Government of Mozambique to usher in an AIDS-free generation.
Muito obrigado. Estamos juntos.