A survivor of HIV and tuberculosis is traveling through Idaho this week to support the global program that saved her life.
Loyce Maturu was 10 years old and living in the capital of Harare, Zimbabwe, when her mother and younger brother died from HIV. Shortly after, in 2004, she discovered that she was HIV-positive and also had tuberculosis.
Fortunately, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria had just started providing aid in Zimbabwe and local advocates helped her get treatment for her diseases. When she attempted suicide a few months later by overdosing on the tuberculosis pills, the same advocates brought her to the hospital and helped to save her life again.
Within six months, Maturu’s tuberculosis had been cured and she became determined to to share her story to help raise awareness of the others going through what she went through.
“I was one of the most fortunate people to get that treatment when when I needed it,” Maturu said.
There are 1.4 million people living with AIDS in Zimbabwe but more than a million of them are now getting antiretroviral treatment for the disease through the Global Fund. More than 13,000 of those are people who, like Maturu, are simultaneously being treated for both.
Maturu is touring the country with Results, an American nonprofit that is working to end national and global poverty, to gather support for the Global Fund. There will be a vote in October for countries to renew their support for the fund’s efforts or even increase funding to try and eliminate diseases such as HIV within a few decades.
“All the efforts will make sure we have 16 million more lives saved. That is what we are looking at,” Maturu said.
Right now, Maturu and Results expansion manager Amanda Beals are in the middle of a mountain states tour to gather support and awareness for the Global Fund. Idaho is an especially important state for them because of Sen. James Risch’s role as the chairman for the Foreign Relations Committee. The women hope that Risch will use his position to lead a bipartisan effort for the U.S. to continue leading the Global Fund’s donors.
“Congress has changed power a lot over the last 17 years but the Global Fund has always been supported by them,” Beals said.
The Global Fund’s goal is to replenish its funding with $14 billion over the next three years. If the United States donated at the same rate it had done in the past, it would provide $4.68 billion of that.
A statement from Risch’s office stated his intent to continue supporting the effort to end AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a State Department program that has worked closely with the Global Fund for many years.
”As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I intend to ensure that PEPFAR continues to serve as one of the most transformative, efficient, and effective U.S. foreign assistance programs of our time,” Risch’s statement read in part.