MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Global Fund signs $68.8 million in HIV grants for Benin

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced on Tuesday the signing of $68.8 million in new HIV grants for Benin to stop the disease's spread in the West African nation.

The funding will target groups most vulnerable to infection, such as sex workers, truck drivers and men who have sex with men. The funding will also support the continued expansion of HIV treatment and of programs to prevent HIV positive mothers from infecting their babies with HIV. The goal of the funding is to provide treatment for 90 percent of individuals who need it by 2015.

"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," Kinde Gazard, the health minister of Benin, said. "On a more global level we have a holistic vision of the entire health system envisaging strengthened governance and efficient management of grants."

Benin's HIV epidemic affects 1.2 percent of the adult population with prevalence sharply down among young people, from 1.8 percent in 2008 to 0.4 percent in 2012. The number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment in the country stands at 23,000.

"This is a major step forward in the Global Fund's partnership with Benin to defeat HIV/AIDS," Lelio Marmora, the Global Fund's director for Africa and the Middle East, said. "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 provide support to orphans and vulnerable children, people living with HIV/AIDS, HIV counseling and testing, prevention activities like targeted behavioral change communication and condom distribution and promotion.