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U.S. Africa Command Hosts 3rd Annual HIV/AIDS Awareness Program
U.S. Africa Command health specialists, doctors, and staff members discussed the latest trends in HIV/AIDS at the AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, November 30, 2009, in recognition of World HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on December 1.<br /> <br
STUTTGART, Germany - Ambassador Tony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command&#39;s deputy to the commander for civil military activities, talks to staff members about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention programs for African militaries, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany. U.S. Africa Command medical experts and staff members gathered for a discussion on the latest HIV/AIDS trends in recognition of World HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on December 1. &#34;There&#39;s nothing that the U.S. government does in Africa that is more appreciated, that is better targeted, and that is so appropriate as for us to engage in an effort to fight HIV/AIDS in militaries,&#34; Holmes said. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 3: STUTTGART, Germany - Ambassador Tony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for civil military activities, talks to staff members about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention programs for African militaries, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany. U.S. Africa Command medical experts and staff members gathered for a discussion on the latest HIV/AIDS trends in recognition of World HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on December 1. "There's nothing that the U.S. government does in Africa that is more appreciated, that is better targeted, and that is so appropriate as for us to engage in an effort to fight HIV/AIDS in militaries," Holmes said. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel Victor Folarin (left), chief of International Health Programs, U.S. Africa Command medical division, discusses the latest HIV/AIDS trends with Major Wes Palmer, U.S. Africa Command health specialist, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany, during the command's 3rd annual World AIDS Day Awareness and Training Program. The program is geared to encourage discussion among staff of HIV/AIDS, particularly as it pertains to the African continent. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 3: STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel Victor Folarin (left), chief of International Health Programs, U.S. Africa Command medical division, discusses the latest HIV/AIDS trends with Major Wes Palmer, U.S. Africa Command health specialist, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany, during the command's 3rd annual World AIDS Day Awareness and Training Program. The program is geared to encourage discussion among staff of HIV/AIDS, particularly as it pertains to the African continent. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
STUTTGART, Germany - Major Wes Palmer, a health specialist in U.S. Africa Command's medical division, briefs command staff on the latest trends in HIV/AIDS, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany.  The brief was part of the command's 3rd annual World AIDS Day Awareness and Training Program which is geared to encourage discussion among staff of HIV/AIDS, particularly as it pertains to the African continent. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 3: STUTTGART, Germany - Major Wes Palmer, a health specialist in U.S. Africa Command's medical division, briefs command staff on the latest trends in HIV/AIDS, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany. The brief was part of the command's 3rd annual World AIDS Day Awareness and Training Program which is geared to encourage discussion among staff of HIV/AIDS, particularly as it pertains to the African continent. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
STUTTGART, Germany - Ambassador Tony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command&#39;s deputy to the commander for civil military activities, talks to staff members about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention programs for African militaries, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany. U.S. Africa Command medical experts and staff members gathered for a discussion on the latest HIV/AIDS trends in recognition of World HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on December 1. &#34;There&#39;s nothing that the U.S. government does in Africa that is more appreciated, that is better targeted, and that is so appropriate as for us to engage in an effort to fight HIV/AIDS in militaries,&#34; Holmes said. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command)
STUTTGART, Germany - Colonel Victor Folarin (left), chief of International Health Programs, U.S. Africa Command medical division, discusses the latest HIV/AIDS trends with Major Wes Palmer, U.S. Africa Command health specialist, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany, during the command's 3rd annual World AIDS Day Awareness and Training Program. The program is geared to encourage discussion among staff of HIV/AIDS, particularly as it pertains to the African continent. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command)
STUTTGART, Germany - Major Wes Palmer, a health specialist in U.S. Africa Command's medical division, briefs command staff on the latest trends in HIV/AIDS, November 30, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany.  The brief was part of the command's 3rd annual World AIDS Day Awareness and Training Program which is geared to encourage discussion among staff of HIV/AIDS, particularly as it pertains to the African continent. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command)
U.S. Africa Command health specialists, doctors, and staff members discussed the latest trends in HIV/AIDS at the AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, November 30, 2009, in recognition of World HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on December 1.



Command medical experts reported a number of positive trends in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, based on the latest statistics from 2008.



"Over the last eight years or so we are starting to see some improvements," said Major Wes Palmer, a health specialist in U.S. Africa Command's medical division. "Some of the positive trends we're seeing are that, overall, the rates of people who are becoming infected with the disease is decreasing."



The decline is particularly evident in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the number of new infections in 2008 approximately 25 percent lower than in 1995, according to the 2009 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and World Health Organization (WHO) update on HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, there has been an 18 percent decline in annual HIV-related mortality in the region since 2004.



The decline in AIDS-related deaths and HIV infections is attributed to successes in prevention strategies, increased access to treatment, as well as the integration of HIV efforts into the broader health awareness initiatives, such as the improvement of public health standards.



In spite of these improvements, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV, accounting for 67 percent of all new HIV infections in 2008. Also in 2008, the region accounted for 72 percent of the world's AIDS-related deaths.



Eric Threet, U.S. Africa Command humanitarian assistance program coordinator, talked about U.S. Africa Command's role in the fight against AIDS, which is especially prevalent in African militaries.



"The purpose of today's luncheon is to raise staff awareness and consciousness on this epidemic which has a direct impact on what we, at Africa Command are here to help Africans with--security and stability," Threet said.



The prevalence of AIDS in Africa weakens African governments, militaries, and economies, hindering peacekeeping efforts and negatively impacting overall security and stability on the continent. African military members are at higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS than the civilian population.



U.S. Africa Command supports African militaries in establishing HIV/AIDS prevention programs through its Partner Military HIV/AIDS Program (PMHAP), as part of the DoD HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP).



Together, these programs aim to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among military personnel in African nations. PMHAP and DHAPP are key implementing agencies of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). HIV prevention programs have been established in 27 African nations.



U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) works in partnership with PEPFAR and is the main program implementer, contributing roughly 60 percent of its funding. Representing USAID at the meeting, Christine Byrne, chief of Inspector General Outreach, U.S. Africa Command, discussed accomplishments of the PEPFAR-led response in 2008. As of September 2008, Byrne said, 2.1 million individuals received antiretroviral treatment; 10.1 million people were provided with HIV/AIDS care and support; and 57 million received counseling and testing.



Ambassador Tony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for civil military activities, stressed the importance of these programs to the command's mission.



"There's nothing that the U.S. government does in Africa that is more appreciated, that is better targeted, and that is so appropriate as for us to engage in an effort to fight HIV/AIDS in militaries," he said.



World HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an international campaign to foster awareness of the AIDS epidemic. This year's theme, "Universal Access and Human Rights," recognizes that HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care are fundamental human rights and that by promoting human rights, new infections can be prevented and people who have HIV/AIDS can live free from discrimination.



For more information on DHAPP and PMHAP, download a factsheet at http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=3589.



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