Government’s commitment to fighting HIV stronger than ever

Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) is a one-time, low-cost HIV intervention shown to reduce the risk of female-male HIV transmission by at least 60 percent. As part of a combination HIV service package, VMMC has the potential to prevent millions of new HIV infections and save millions of lives, as noted in The Hill’s May 12 Congress Blog post “HIV in 2016: Do we vaccinate now or pay more to treat later?” For this reason, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has long prioritized the expansion of VMMC services to reach the people and places at the greatest risk for HIV infection. Of the total 10 million circumcision procedures that the World Health Organization reports were performed in sub-Saharan Africa since 2010, PEPFAR has supported nearly 90 percent.

PEPFAR has rapidly expanded its support for VMMC in Eastern and Southern Africa, where the AIDS epidemic is still centered. As of Sept. 30, 2012, PEPFAR supported 2 million VMMC procedures, which increased to 4.2 million as of 2013, 6.5 million as of 2014 and 8.9 million as of 2015. PEPFAR aims to support a cumulative total of 11 million VMMC procedures by 2016 and 13 million by 2017, which are among the bold HIV prevention and treatment targets announced by President Obama in September 2015.

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PEPFAR is deeply committed to data-driven decision-making. We are using the latest and most granular epidemiological and program data to assess where we are having the greatest impact and ensure our financial and human resources are optimally positioned toward controlling the AIDS epidemic. In the case of VMMC, our data demonstrate that by targeting 15- to 24-year-old men — who are at an elevated risk of acquiring HIV and transmitting it to an infected partner — we can increase the impact of every VMMC procedure we support. PEPFAR’s rigorous data analyses also have shown that certain VMMC partners and program sites are more effective and efficient at reaching men and delivering safe, high-quality services. Based on these analyses, we have redirected some VMMC resources to these high-performing partners and sites and only closed sites for poor service delivery or non-performance. We take our ethical and fiduciary responsibility to have the greatest possible impact with every dollar we invest very seriously.

VMMC is a powerful tool toward ending the AIDS epidemic, and PEPFAR’s commitment to accelerating access to VMMC is stronger than ever.

From Dr. Lisa J. Nelson, deputy coordinator for program quality, Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 


Wishing first family well as they start private lives in US capital

The Hill pinned a pretty impressive commentary informing readers that the end is near (“Obamas pick DC neighborhood to move to in 2017,” May 24). This is very reminiscent of the coined end phrase of the animated weekend cartoon we all have come to love and remember from “Schoolhouse Rock!”: “Darn, that’s the end!”

For those of us who enjoy President Obama’s politics as commander in chief, we kinda want to turn back the hands of time. Oh, how I wish we could go back to 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt began his first of four terms as president of the United States. But the hands of time have moved forward. 

I think it’s amazing the Obamas have decided to start their lives as private citizens in our nation’s capital. We wish them well.

From Wayne E. Williams, Camden, N.J.