Today marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Now that the program is entering its tween years, we think it’s time it started taking contraception more seriously.
With the creation of PEPFAR in 2003, the U.S. provided unprecedented funds to help fight the global AIDS epidemic and put millions of people on treatment. But in order to reach its goal of an AIDS-free generation, a greater commitment to integrating HIV and family planning programs is key. A focus on broader voluntary family planning methods would help reduce the spread of HIV, especially mother-to-child transmission. It is critical in the fight against HIV/AIDS and for the health and well-being of women and girls.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 22 million people are living with HIV; 60 percent are women. And 53 million women in the region want to prevent pregnancy but lack modern contraception. All women, including those living with HIV, have a right to decide whether and when to have children, and how many to have.