U.S. government’s new comprehensive HIV program launched in Nepal
On Nov. 28, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its latest HIV intervention program for Nepal, the Saath-Saath Project. The project is being implemented by FHI 360 in partnership with various national and international organizations and aims to reduce the spread of HIV and improve the reproductive health of selected most-at-risk populations.
The five-year project will expand HIV prevention, care, support and treatment and integrate family planning in 33 out of Nepal's 75 districts. Saath-Saath (which means "together") follows on FHI 360's implementation of the concluding Advancing Surveillance, Policies, Prevention, Care and Support to Fight HIV/AIDS (ASHA) Project and other USAID-funded HIV interventions in Nepal for almost two decades.
Saath-Saath aims to reduce new HIV infections and promote use of family planning among most-at-risk groups such as female sex workers and their male clients and male labor migrants and their spouses; reach nearly 200,000 most-at-risk individuals with targeted HIV-prevention services; provide sexually transmitted infections (STIs) treatment to 19,000 at-risk individuals; and provide HIV testing and counseling to more than 100,000 people at high risk for HIV. The project will also provide care and support services to 10,000 people living with HIV.
Organized as a prelude to World AIDS Day, the launch was presided over by Dr. Yashovardhan Pradhan, the Director General of Nepal's Department of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Population. Special guests included Dr. Ramesh Kumar Kharel, Director of the National Center for AIDS and STD Control, and Sheila Lutjens, USAID/Nepal's Deputy Mission Director.
Lutjens said: "The United States is proud to be supporting the Government of Nepal as it takes a leadership role in its fight against HIV and AIDs. Since 1993, USAID and the Government of Nepal's efforts to combat HIV and AIDS have resulted in the development of targeted interventions that have reduced HIV prevalence in the country. Working together, we can build on our successes to save even more lives. With Saath-Saath, we are integrating family planning into HIV prevention, treatment and care services, and scaling up our efforts to battle HIV/AIDS more effectively and efficiently."
Local organizations led by people living with HIV (Chhahari Mahila Samuha, Dang Plus, Dhaulagiri Positive Group, Lumbini Plus, Sakriya Plus Nepal, Syangja Support Group, and Trisuli Plus) who partnered with FHI 360 during the ASHA Project (2006-2011) were also honored during the kickoff for their longstanding, exemplary contributions towards serving people living with HIV and their families.