(HealthDay News) – The U.S. global health initiative, the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), has contributed significantly to the global response to HIV, and can continue to have a positive impact, according to a report published online Feb. 20 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Robert E. Black, MD, MPH, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues from the IOM evaluated the PEPFAR initiative’s performance and impact on health using qualitative data, including document review and >400 semi-structured interviews. In addition, 13 data collection visits were conducted in PEPFAR partner counties.

According to the authors, by supporting HIV prevention, care, and treatment services, PEPFAR’s efforts have saved and improved the lives of millions of people. In addition, PEPFAR’s efforts have helped meet the needs of children affected by the HIV epidemic; built and strengthened systems; engaged with governments and other stakeholders and increased knowledge about HIV in partner countries; and ensured that vulnerable populations receive attention in response to HIV. Recommendations for improving the U.S. government’s support for the global response to HIV include scaling up HIV programs; strengthening HIV response systems in partner countries; transitioning partner countries toward a sustainable response; and transforming knowledge management in order to improve effectiveness.

“The future of PEPFAR’s contribution lies in a new direction. PEPFAR is transitioning to new implementation models that enhance systems and capacity while facilitating capable leadership in partner countries to sustainably manage the response to HIV,” the authors write. “If it is successful, PEPFAR has the potential to again transform the way health assistance is envisioned and implemented, with ultimate long-term positive effects for health and well-being.”

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