United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote and Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya have announced the U.S. government plans to contribute US$421 million next year in support of the joint goal of reaching HIV epidemic control in Zambia by 2020.

This is according to a statement issued by US embassy public affairs office Sean McIntosh, Monday.

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has made these funds available, which will facilitate programming from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Peace Corps, and U.S. Departments of State and Defense. To date, the U.S. government has contributed almost $4 billion towards controlling HIV in Zambia over the past 16 years, demonstrating the commitment of the American people to a strong and healthy Zambia.

Ambassador Foote appealed to Zambian men to make sure they remain healthy by knowing their status and then starting and remaining on treatment, if HIV-positive.

“To the fathers, brothers, and sons: I know that we don’t like to go to the health center, especially when we don’t feel sick. I am here to tell you that we cannot control HIV without you. Knowing your status and starting treatment if positive takes courage, but it is critical that you lead by example and show that strong men are not afraid of knowing their status and are not afraid of HIV treatment in order to protect those they love,” said Foote.

In the next year, PEPFAR, in collaboration with the Zambian government, will initiate more than 80,000 men on HIV treatment.

Ambassador Foote made a similar plea to religious leaders to encourage their congregations to take the same actions and recognised the leadership and commitment of the Zambian government toward making progress in achieving HIV epidemic control by 2020.