PEPFAR's lifesaving impact: Mandisa's story

In 2002, around half a million people in South Africa were newly infected with HIV. With one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world, the country became one of the most impacted by the epidemic. That same year, Mandisa Dukashe, a South African woman living in the Eastern Cape, was told that she was HIV-positive.  

Three years later, President George W. Bush and Congress launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Since then, the program has worked alongside national governments, local communities, faith-based organizations, and multilateral institutions to provide life-saving treatment, testing, and care.  

Mandisa became a beneficiary of the program and was able to take ownership of and responsibility for her health. She now works as a lead treatment literacy technician with the South African National AIDS Council to promote and educate people about antiretroviral treatment. She ensures that others receive the opportunities that PEPFAR provided her and has been able to live a beautiful, normal life. Her daughters are HIV-negative, representing over 5.5 million babies born HIV-free since the program began.  

Mandisa and others like her represent the over 25 million lives saved by the program. However, with over 7.5 million people still living with the disease in South Africa, there is still work to be done. PEPFAR is up for reauthorization this year. It must be funded to ensure that people living with HIV and those at risk can continue to live vibrant lives.