Much has changed in the three decades since HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was identified. Even as recently as a decade ago, a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS seemed like a death sentence for an entire continent, said Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Back then, more than 2 million people died from AIDS-related causes on a worldwide basis. Today, we’ve cut those numbers by 34 percent. Back then, AIDS threatened to wipe out a whole generation, leaving behind 14 million orphans and vulnerable children. Today, we’ve slashed new infections among children in half.”
The tide has turned, said Secretary Kerry.We are fighting the disease, and an AIDS-free generation is in sight:
“PEPFAR is now supporting lifesaving anti-retroviral drug treatment for 7.7 million men, women, and children. We’re providing HIV testing and counseling to more than 14 million pregnant women. We’re training more than 140,000 new health care workers to deliver HIV and other health-related services in AIDS-affected countries.”
But the battle is not yet won, said Secretary Kerry. So the United States is intensifying the fight against this terrible disease, and introducing new strategies.
First, PEPFAR is collaborating with the Nike Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a $210 million public-private partnership to achieve an AIDS-free future for adolescent girls and young women in up to 10 countries.
Second, we will invest $116.5 million dollars to strengthen the capacity of health workers to deliver life-saving HIV services, and also help address other public health threats across Africa.
Third, through the Accelerating Children’s HIV/AIDS Treatment initiative, PEPFAR and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, over the next two years, we will double the total number of children receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment across ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We are also working with our partners, to accelerate the development of new pediatric medicines.
Fourth, PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation are partnering to invest $21.5 million toward creating country-driven local data hubs that will include data critical to controlling the epidemic, including health, poverty, and gender data, and will be used to improve strategic planning, and quality of care.
“The United States commitment to combatting HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR and our longstanding support of the Global Fund is as undiminished as our work is unfinished. We can achieve an AIDS-free generation,” Said Secretary Kerry. “We can and we will defeat this horrific disease.”