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The United Nations estimates the number of people infected with HIV globally at about 33 million.
On November 30th, the eve of World AIDS Day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and senior U.S. officials who lead the U.S. global fight against AIDS reiterated U.S. commitment to the effort.
"We know the ravages and complexities of HIV/AIDS here in our own country, and we know ... what it looks like around the world," said Secretary of State Clinton:
"We have made progress, but we face an unending pandemic, one that spares no one, that unfortunately, disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, and which is the defining health challenge of our times. And we have to address it through a series of broad and cross-cutting global partnerships and a whole-of-government approach. And that is exactly what we are attempting to do."
The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, initiated by former President George W. Bush in 2003, is the cornerstone of the U.S. global effort to fight HIV/AIDS. It is the largest commitment in history by any nation to combat a single disease, so far providing approximately $25 billion to the fight against global AIDS.
"PEPFAR has provided lifesaving antiretroviral treatment to over 2 million [people] worldwide, through partnerships with other governments and NGOs," said Secretary of State Clinton. "We’ve supported care for more than 10 million people, including 4 million orphans and vulnerable children. And PEPFAR’s efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission have helped nearly 240,000 HIV-positive mothers give birth to children who are HIV-free. So it is clear that our nation’s investments are having an impact."
Initially an emergency response to the AIDS epidemic, in the coming 5 years PEPFAR will emphasize innovation, research, improved service delivery and integrating HIV/AIDS programs into global health and development programs as it moves forward. Developing sustainable programs and strengthening the ability of governments to lead the effort within their own countries will also be a top priority.
"Tackling this disease will take an aggressive, steadfast approach." said President Obama. "We recommit ourselves to building on the accomplishments of the past decades that have dramatically changed the domestic and global HIV/AIDS landscape."