In November 1993, David Ngele became the first Motswana to openly disclose he was living with HIV. Over the past 25 years, more courageous individuals have followed him in making public disclosures, though they represent a small percentage of the estimated 360,000 Batswana who are living with HIV.
Many of those who have publicly disclosed their HIV status in Botswana have stated that the virus has been less oppressive than the stigma attached to it. While public displays of stigma and discrimination are not as frequent and visible as in years past, many people have endured the incredibly painful experience of being stigmatized because of their HIV status, often by the same family and friends whom they looked to for love and acceptance.
In order to support these brave men and women, PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has funded BONEPWA+ to implement the Treat All Champions Campaign. The Campaign has enlisted 30 people living openly with HIV to mobilize their communities to address stigma and other barriers that prevent Batswana from knowing their status or enrolling on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment if they are diagnosed with HIV.
Through the Treat All Strategy launched by H.E. President Khama in 2016, all Batswana living with HIV now have the opportunity to enroll on antiretroviral treatment immediately upon their diagnosis.
Over the past 15 years, the U.S. government, through PEPFAR, has not only saved and improved millions of lives, but also transformed the global HIV/AIDS response. Through PEPFAR’s Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control, as many as 13 countries, including Botswana, could achieve epidemic control by 2020. Since 2004, PEPFAR has supported the Government of Botswana with $950 million for HIV prevention, treatment, and care.
PEPFAR is also implementing specific strategies to address the largest gaps in the HIV response, primarily in reaching youth aged 15-24 and men aged over 30.
The United States is proud to partner with Botswana and more than 50 other countries toward controlling and ultimately ending their HIV/AIDS epidemics.