Diplomats and international health officials gathered at the United Nations recently to mark the 30th anniversary of the identification of HIV/AIDS and to plan for continuing the fight against a pandemic that has killed over 25 million people and affects tens of millions more.
U.S. officials took part in the conference and used the occasion to reaffirm our commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS and saving lives.
During the meeting, world leaders came together to announce a new plan to make significant strides towards eliminating new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. The U.S. pledged an additional $75 million for preventing mother-to-child transmission, on top of approximately $300 million provided annually through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. More money also will be provided for helping eliminate HIV among children.
Thirty years ago, the AIDS epidemic appeared to be unstoppable. With international attention and cooperation, however, groundbreaking research was done to develop treatments for the disease. In 2001, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established. The U.S. was the founding contributor to the Global Fund and continues to be its largest single donor.
In 2003, our country followed up on the effort with PEPFAR. The program supports treatment for more than 3.2 million people, most of them in Africa where HIV/AIDS has had its greatest impact. Last year, it supported access to testing and counseling services for 33 million people with HIV. U.S.-supported programs also reached more than 8 million pregnant women and provided 600,000 mothers with the drugs needed to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus. As a result, it is estimated that more than 114,000 infants were born HIV-free in 2010. It's a record that the new initiative announced at the U.N. will build upon.
President Barack Obama has made it clear that our fight against HIV/AIDS is a key element of U.S. foreign policy and our commitment to it is unwavering.