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Five Zimbabwean HIV and AIDS activists - filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono, the Batanai Support Group in Masvingo, football administrator Chris Sambo, pediatrician Rose Kambarami and Barclays Bank Zimbabwe Limited - were honored at the 2009 Auxillia Chimusoro Awards ceremony held in Harare on Thursday. The 5 were recognized for their outstanding contribution in mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS in the fields of communications, community participation, leadership, sports and corporate social responsibility respectively.
The awards ceremony - financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) - was attended by members of various HIV/AIDS support groups, senior government officials, diplomats and Emmy Award winning actress and Population Services International (PSI) Ambassador Debra Messing.
U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles A. Ray, told delegates that his country would continue its strong partnership with Zimbabwe to contain HIV/AIDS. "We are expecting another $46 million in 2010. In Zimbabwe, in 2009, the U.S. Government supported anti-retroviral therapy for 40,000 Zimbabweans in need of care and, in 2010, we will increase that number by nearly 50 percent," said Ambassador Ray.
Since 2000, the US has provided over $200 million in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe where the pandemic has been devastating. Ambassador Ray said over the next 5 years, the United States will partner with other nations - including Zimbabwe - to build the long-term sustainability of their national HIV/AIDS responses.
Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. Henry Madzorera, had earlier noted that “while HIV prevalence has been declining, the number of people accessing anti-retroviral therapy has been increasing.”
Ms. Messing noted that, “In a region ravaged by HIV, Zimbabwe has made extensive strides to stem the spread of this disease.”
Her sentiments were echoed by USAID Director, Karen Freeman, whose organization has taken a lead in implementing the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) strategy. This strategy complements Zimbabwe’s own National Plan, aiming to strengthen the will and capacity of all to take effective action against HIV/AIDS.
"There is growing evidence in Zimbabwe that our joint efforts are starting to make a difference where it counts the most – a decreasing trend in the number of people who are becoming infected," said Karen Freeman, Director of USAID.
"We are working together, with all of our local partners, in support of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, to create a new vision for Zimbabwe – one where there are fewer people infected and affected with the disease," said Freeman.