The U.S. says its President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has saved more than 17 million lives in Nigeria and other African countries.

U.S. Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, stated this ahead of the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, and the 15th anniversary of PEPFAR.

He said that since the launch of PEPFAR in 2003, the U.S. had saved more than 17 million lives, prevented millions of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths globally.

The U.S. top diplomat said the HIV/AIDS pandemic had moved from crisis toward control, adding that President Donald Trump remained committed to these efforts to end the Scourge.

Pompeo said: “as at Sept. 30 this year, PEPFAR had supported over 14.6 million people with lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.

“This is up from the only 50,000 who were on treatment in Africa when the programme started in 2003.

“I am also pleased to announce new and exciting progress toward achieving epidemic control in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

“We aren’t announcing the specific data sets just yet, but Ethiopia is on the verge of achieving HIV epidemic control – a remarkable accomplishment.

“And Nigeria may be closer to achieving HIV epidemic control than was previously thought, or even previously thought possible. This is a remarkable work.

“Majority of Nigerians who report being on HIV treatment have suppressed their viral replication, allowing them to thrive and not to transmit the virus”.

The U.S. secretary said AIDS relief plan was also supporting over 700,000 children, explaining that PEPFAR had also enabled over 2.4 million babies to be born HIV-free to mothers living with HIV and supported over 6.8 million orphans, vulnerable children, and their caregivers.

Pompeo added that the new PEPFAR report highlighted that in the past year, new HIV diagnoses among adolescent girls and young women continued to decline in 85 per cent of the highest HIV burden communities/districts that were implementing the programme’s public-private partnership.

According to him, these reductions are particularly critical as, in 2017, three in four new infections in sub-Saharan Africa occurred among girls ages 15 to 19.

He stressed that “U.S. remains the largest donor to the global HIV response, investing resources provided through the generosity of the American people with accountability, transparency.”

Amb. Deborah Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, also said PEPFAR continued to focus on prevention, both for young boys and young girls.

Birx said: “I think you’ll also see that we’ve shown that in our studies in Ethiopia, we’ve shown that Ethiopia truly is achieving an AIDS control and control of their HIV/AIDS pandemic with significant drops in incidence.

“And now our studies in Nigeria; we’re very excited about new data that will come out in the beginning of the year from Nigeria showing their epidemic is not as large as we had once expected, and that people are thriving and staying on their ARVs and are virally suppressed – both thriving for themselves and ensuring that they’re not transmitting the viruses to others.”

Established in 2003 by President George W. Bush, PEPFAR is a 21st-century statement of America’s concern for the most vulnerable, Department of State said.