The United States is committed to helping other nations overcome one of the greatest health threats in the world today: the human-immune deficiency virus – H-I-V – that causes AIDS.
Forty-two million people around the world now live with the disease and tens of millions more are at risk. Nearly half are women. AIDS has left about fifteen-million orphans. And unless the tide is stemmed, says U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, “That number will swell to twenty-five million by the end of this decade”:
“The appalling statistics do not begin to describe the magnitude of the destruction wrought by AIDS. AIDS is more devastating than any terrorist attack, any conflict or any weapon of mass destruction.... AIDS shatters families, tears the fabric of societies, and undermines governments. AIDS can destroy countries and destabilize entire regions.”
Secretary of State Powell says it is also essential to continue speaking out on AIDS:
“When people lack knowledge of how infections can be prevented, and when those infected are stigmatized and driven into the shadows, the virus thrives, and hope withers. More and more public figures are speaking out, shattering the silence that kills. They are sending the message that people living with AIDS should not be treated with cruelty and discrimination, but instead with dignity and with compassion.”
The U.S. has programs to help fight AIDS in over seventy-five countries. President Bush has asked the U.S. Congress to provide funds to focus on programs in fourteen of the most affected countries in Africa and the Caribbean. The goals of the plan include preventing seven-million new H-I-V infections, treating two-million people living with H-I-V/AIDS with effective medicines, and caring for ten-million H-I-V-infected individuals and AIDS orphans. President Bush’s plan also includes a one-billion-dollar commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, bringing total U.S. support for the fund to more than one-billion-six-hundred-million dollars. As President Bush says, “Millions of lives depend on the success of this effort, and we are determined to succeed.”