The U.S. has unveiled a five-year, fifteen-billion dollar program to combat the spread of AIDS around the world and to treat those who already have the deadly disease. Worldwide, more than forty-million people are infected with the H-I-V virus that causes AIDS. An estimated eight-thousand die from AIDS each day.
Nine-billion dollars of the new U.S. commitment will be used to fund new programs in more than a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, including Botswana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, and Guyana and Haiti [in the Caribbean region]. Five-billion dollars will go to provide continuing support to the approximately one-hundred countries where the U.S. contributes to H-I-V/AIDS programs. An additional one-billion dollars will support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Randall Tobias, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, says that the plan reflects the “current best thinking about what needs to be done and what we believe it is possible to do”:
“This money will go to scale up programs that are providing antiretroviral [virus fighting drug] treatment, prevention programs, including those targeted to youth, and safe medical practice programs, and programs to provide care for orphans and vulnerable children.”
The U.S. initiative will encourage governments to strengthen their own national policies for combating AIDS and its consequences. And the U.S., says Ambassador Tobias, will work closely with the United Nations, other governments, and private organizations:
“I think there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and it’s going to require constant and concerted commitment from all of us working together, if we are to get a handle on it and to defeat it. The limits of what we can accomplish in eradicating AIDS and its consequences are defined, I think, only by the limits of our collective moral imagination."
U.S. officials call the plan “the boldest international health initiative ever undertaken by a single country.” Its success will be measured by lives saved, families held intact, and by how much impact it has on slowing the spread of AIDS.