The United States of America has long been an advocate for countries to tackle the tough issue of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. government works with vulnerable, developing nations on a framework to combat HIV/AIDS. Since 2009, the U.S. government has committed nearly $65 billion to support PEPFAR and its global HIV/AIDS response. While gains have been real, progress against this disease, even in the United States, has been uneven.
Ambassador Melville joined British Ambassador Chris Holtby and Finnish Ambassador Kirsti Narinen on 8 February 2016 in sending a letter to the Estonian Parliament’s Constitutional Committee chair in support of Estonian government efforts to battle the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Estonia, including the proposal to create a special commission in Parliament. We applaud the success Estonia has made in decreasing the rates of new infections over the last decade, and we encourage continued attention to make further progress in fighting this epidemic.
The United States government continues to support Estonia’s efforts to combat this epidemic on many fronts. Since 2002, the USG has provided nearly $2.3 million in HIV-related assistance for training, raising awareness, NGO capacity-building, and harm reduction activities.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Defense is working with the Estonian Defense Forces on a $625,000 HIV prevention program (DHAPP) that includes leadership engagement and policy development and conscript HIV prevention and education. The success of Estonia’s program has been a model for other countries with similar programs, and DHAPP will host an international conference in Tallinn this September to share best practices.
The United States will continue to support the Estonian government on this issue and to raise public awareness about the global challenge.
As President Obama said in his State of the Union address in January, “Right now, we’re on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS. That’s within our grasp.” An AIDS-free generation is within our reach, and we must seize the opportunity in Estonia and worldwide.