In mid-September, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, joined the George W. Bush Institute, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS as well as private sector partners to launch Pink Ribbon, Red Ribbon. This public-private partnership will combat cervical and breast cancer for women in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
The U.S. contribution to the partnership will build on the PEPFAR program, which was established under President George W. Bush to fight AIDS globally. The Obama Administration has built on PEPFAR through the Global Health Initiative, increasing the number of people receiving prevention, treatment and care for HIV. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. will invest an additional $10 million through the partnership, on top of the $20 million already allocated over the next five years, to expand screening and treatment of HIV-positive women for cervical cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "If we want to make progress on some of the toughest challenges we face in global health —- fighting HIV, preventing childhood deaths, improving nutrition, stopping malaria, and more -— then investing in women must be at the top of the agenda."
In the developing world, women's cancers are often neglected and associated with stigma that discourages women from seeing a doctor. Globally, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women, with 530,000 new cases and 275,000 deaths each year. 85 percent of cervical cancers occur in developing countries, yet according to the World Health Organization, fewer than 5 percent of these women have access to screening.
Cervical cancer is 4 to 5 times more common among women who are HIV-positive, because HIV reduces the body’s ability to fight infections that may lead to cancer. Thus PEPFAR programs are ideally positioned to test women with HIV for cervical cancer, and to treat it if needed.
Hailing the Pink Ribbon, Red Ribbon partnership, former President Bush noted, "It’s time to take the next step in building on the progress that has been made over the past decade in the fight against HIV and AIDS."