Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Halving HIV rates goal of new prevention program

USAID committed USD 70 million for a new HIV prevention program that will reach over two million people at risk and other vulnerable populations in 200 towns in Ethiopia. The project that has the life span of five years is expected to cut new HIV infections in half by 2015.
According to an Ethiopian Demographic and Health survey (EDHS) from 2011, it was estimated that 137,494 new infections occurred in Ethiopia. Amhara and Oromia regions accounted for almost half of those new infections while Addis Ababa contributed approximately 23,000 new infections.
The Mitigate, Understand, Leverage and Unite (MULU) prevention program is comprehensive in its approach to prevention and will use the spectrum of relevant medical testing services, behavioral counseling and awareness raising while encouraging systemic change in the community in order to encourage more effective responses in the future.  Throughout the planed five years, half a billion condoms are expected to be given out as well as 20,000 condom outlets to be established.
At the project launch which was held on Thursday May 31st 2012 at Radisson Blu Hotel, it was announced that USAID will partner with Population Service International (PSI) and World Learning to provide HIV prevention services throughout nine regions and two city administrations.
In response to the launch of the program U.S Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald E. Booth commented that MULU prevention intends to reach two million people with messages, services and products that put the power of HIV prevention in their hands.
“We want the program to be a sustainable one that can be achieved when communities as well as individuals are involved. The program will try to reduce risky sexual behaviors and empower people to protect themselves,” Said Kassa Mohammed, Project Manager at USAID.
MULU Prevention will contribute to the ongoing efforts of the government of Ethiopia to reduce HIV incidence to 50 percent by 2015. The targeted priority population includes sex workers and their clients, persons engaged in prostitution, migrant workers and daily laborers.
“We will make sure to document the process well, we will be working on evidence and see what works and what doesn’t to ensure that the program is successful,” said Endale Workalemaw, representative from Population Service International (PSI)
USAID, PSI and World Learning will work in close partnership with the Ethiopian Government at federal and regional levels to support national, regional and local preservation activities that will strengthen community response.