US committed to helping fight HIV/ AIDS in Burundi

In an interview with IWACU, Anne Casper, the USA Ambassador to Burundi says the United States supports 36,000 Burundians living with HIV through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS RELIEF (PEPFAR). She says the program contributes to the reduction of mother-to- child transmission and provides testing and prevention services.

Anne Casper, USA Ambassador to Burundi: “Each Burundian should have access to health care.”

Anne Casper, USA Ambassador to Burundi: “Each Burundian should have access to health care.”

She says it also enables services for orphans and vulnerable children and help strengthen their health infrastructures by providing laboratory materials and training health care workers. She says the United States has invested almost USD 103 million in PEPFAR over the last six years, among which USD 17 million was used in the past year alone. This program is a part of the global initiative implemented in Burundi to eradicate HIV/AIDS. Anne Casper says the United States works with Burundi government, other partners and civil society organizations in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The US Ambassador says HIV is not a growing threat and adds that people living with HIV in Burundi are estimated at 1%. “We will continue to work together to reduce significantly the number of people that are infected by the virus”, she says.

The Ambassador says the US will continue to work with all organizations involved in the eradication of HIV/AIDS. “We also train nurses, workers in health communities, provide medical supplies or laboratory materials just to improve the health system and treat patients in a real caring manner”, she says.

Ambassador Casper says her country works with all NGOs and other partners in the most valuable programs as youths and women are vulnerable and targeted groups. “Like in other countries, young people and women are vulnerable. Therefore, we have strong strategies to keep young people away from HIV by ensuring that they go to and remain at school”, she says.

She also says the United States is concerned about poor people living with HIV the reason why it coordinates programs that aim at ensuring food security.

“Global fund provides food and orphans are also concerned. They receive social and economic welfare through local NGOs such as ANSS etc.,” she says. The US Ambassador has also talked about her country’s contribution to the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. “I have learned that the vast majority of HIV positive women give birth to healthy babies if they receive all treatment, services and guidance as well,” she says.

Anne Casper says the United States is still committed to supporting Burundi in the eradication of the disease and believes that each Burundian should have access to health care. “Amagara ni amazi aseseka ntibayore (Health is better than wealth) and Ikibiri gikutsa ikivi (Many hands make light work)”, she has said.

She calls on all people to be brave enough to do HIV screening not only for themselves but also for their children. “It is important to know one’s health status and receive treatment once tested positive,” she says.