15 October 2013
COTONOU, Benin – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has signed US$68.8 million in new HIV grants for Benin to help stop the disease’s spread, notably by targeting those most vulnerable to infection, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and truck drivers.
The new funding will also help support continued expansion of HIV treatment and of programs to prevent HIV positive mothers from infecting their babies with the virus, with the aim of providing treatment for 90 percent of those who need it by 2015.
Three HIV grants were signed at a ceremony last week in Cotonou attended by Benin’s Health Minister, Dorothée Kinde Gazard, and the Global Fund’s Director for Africa and the Middle East, Lelio Marmora.
“The Global Fund is in a dynamic partnership with Benin which is expressed in political will and a sense of shared responsibility with a view to reaching the Millennium Development Goals in the area of health,” said Minister Kinde Gazard. “On a more global level we have a holistic vision of the entire health system envisaging strengthened governance and efficient management of grants.”
Benin has stabilized a generalized HIV epidemic, which now affects 1.2 percent of the adult population, and prevalence has also declined sharply among young people, from 1.8 percent in 2008 to 0.4 percent in 2012, while the total number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment now stands at 23,000.
In order to bring the epidemic entirely under control more attention needs to be focused on especially vulnerable groups which have made slower progress. Prevalence among sex workers, for example, was still high at 20.9 percent in 2012 despite falling from 26.5 percent in 2008.
New funding is therefore being redirected to target prevention activities at those most exposed to infection, also including, among others, workers in the transport, construction and tourism industries and young people who are not receiving any schooling.
The grants will be managed by 3 Principal Recipients: the ‘Programme National de Lutte contre le SIDA’ (PNLS), which is Benin’s National AIDS Program, the ‘Société d’Electricité Industriel et du Batiment’ (SEIB), a private enterprise, and Plan Benin, an international NGO.
“This is a major step forward in the Global Fund’s partnership with Benin to defeat HIV/AIDS,” said Marmora. “We also commend the government for matching the increased funding from the Global Fund with a significant rise in domestic health spending.”
The funding will also help provide care and support for orphans and vulnerable children; people living with HIV/AIDS; prevention activities such as strategic and targeted behavioral change communication; HIV counseling and testing; and condom promotion and distribution.