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Although an economic downturn continues to grip many nations of the world, the United States is not letting that hinder its campaign to combat AIDS.
International groups and medical authorities in some countries hard hit by HIV/AIDS have expressed concern that the global recession and its effect on government spending decisions could hurt international funding for anti-AIDS programs.
Ambassador Eric Goosby, head of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, pledged recently that the U.S. will stay the course in the AIDS fight. While economic problems are a concern of U.S. leaders, he said President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have assured him that PEPFAR remains among the highest priorities.
Former President George W. Bush began the PEPFAR program in 2003. Since then it has been very active, particularly in Africa, where more than 2 million people have received treatment under the effort. South Africa, estimated to have the highest number of AIDS cases in the world, has been the largest recipient of PEPFAR funds, and in a sign of the U.S. commitment, that nation will receive an increase of $10 million in its grant for the coming year.
Worldwide, PEPFAR has provided aid for more than 10 million people affected by HIV/AIDS, including more than 4 million orphans and vulnerable children. In addition, support for prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs has allowed nearly 240,000 babies to be born HIV-free. That commitment remains strong.