It is a pleasure for me to be here with you today to learn about the great work achieved by civil society organizations working with key populations on HIV/AIDS and to participate in the signing of the Sixth Round of Grants. For the past five years, civil society organizations in Nicaragua have received financial support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and technical assistance of USAID through the PrevenSida project.
PEPFAR is the U.S. Government’s initiative to work toward an AIDS-free generation, and to help prevent HIV/AIDS and save the lives of those suffering from the disease around the world. This historic commitment is the largest by any nation to combat a single disease internationally. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations and others to make smart investments to save lives. PEPFAR is the cornerstone and largest component of the U.S. President’s Global Health Initiative.
The Embassy of the United States is very proud of its cooperation with Nicaraguan NGOs in the field of comprehensive care for HIV/AIDS patients and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Through our different national and regional programs, together we are improving public health policies, increasing access to means of protection, improving the quality of health care services, collaborating on the supply of health care commodities, and strengthening the participation of local Non-Governmental Organizations in the provision of community services to people who suffer from or are at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
One very important part of PrevenSida is to reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS and to reduce discrimination against people who are particularly at risk of contract HIV/AIDS, such as transgender people, gay, bisexual and sexual workers.
As stated by President Barack Obama, “all people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.” Sexual and gender minorities and persons living with HIV/AIDS face unique challenges and the U.S. Government is committed to addressing these issues in our own country and in Nicaragua, by supporting local NGOs.
Through USAID’s PrevenSida project we have awarded 99 grants totaling more than $2 million since 2011. These grants have contributed to strengthening the institutional capacity of 36 NGOs working nationwide, focusing on the most at-risk populations. The U.S. government has been working to strengthen civil society through financial assistance, helping organizations improve their administrative and financial management, and increasing access to quality prevention services. This has enabled organizations to learn-by-doing, both in the areas of management, planning, monitoring, and reporting of results, which is leading to more efficient and self-sustaining local organizations.
We congratulate you, the NGOs that have met impressive goals to provide preventive care to key populations. We know this was only possible due to your hard work, strategic planning, unparalleled understanding of your beneficiaries, and systematic monitoring and results analysis through the applied use of technology.
And it has paid off. These efforts generated significant achievements in the last five years: more than 180,000 people at greater risk of being infected by HIV – about 80% of people in need – received preventive services; more than 50,000 HIV rapid tests were performed and 155 new cases were identified and referred for curative care. And, more than 3,600 people with HIV – one-third of the people with HIV in Nicaragua – received community care helping them to continue receiving treatment.
Our work continues. Grants to the eight selected NGOs will benefit more than 20,000 people with preventive services, 8,000 people with HIV testing, and 2,000 people with HIV with community care and mobile laboratory services, reducing barriers to access critical health services.
Once again, we congratulate you and wish you success in achieving the outcomes defined by each of your organizations. Working together we are saving lives and improving the lives of thousands of Nicaraguans.