Ben Cardin - Senator for Maryland

World AIDS Day Statement

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December 1, 2012, marks the 25th World AIDS Day. This is a day to remember the lives lost to HIV/AIDS, our progress, and our commitment to conquer a pandemic that has left tens of millions around the world living with HIV or AIDS.

Over the past decade, new HIV infections have fallen by 20 percent thanks in large part to the lifesaving antiretroviral treatment we and our partners are making available in every corner of the world.

The United States has long been a leader in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The Reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), enacted in July 2008, represents the largest contribution to disease eradication ever enacted into law by the U.S. government. Dedicated government experts from an array of U.S. agencies are engaged in the fight, as are thousands of non-profits, and community organizations. To date, PEPFAR has provided AIDS drugs to more than 5 million people worldwide.

Yet despite the progress that the numbers and statistics tell us, the story on the ground is still heartbreaking. International anti-AIDS funding has not increased significantly since 2008, and though we’ve been working on treating this disease for decades, we still have an overwhelming number of infections to treat.

In Congo, for example, doctors are only able to supply anti-retroviral drugs to 15 percent of the people who need them.  Globally, just 8 million of the 15 million treatment-eligible patients in AIDS-ravaged poor regions of the world are receiving antiretroviral drugs.

But the good news is that scientists now believe we have the tools tend AIDS in our lifetime. Last year, the National Institutes of Health increased spending on cure-related research by $56 million. On the Bethesda campus and in NIH funded research sites across the nation, scientists continue to make remarkable profess.

I am encouraged by the Obama Administration’s release of the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation. This document reaffirms the U.S. commitment to fight AIDS and outlines how we can save millions of lives and achieve an AIDS-free generation by making smart investments based on sound science and a shared global responsibility.

I stand with the Obama Administration and the entire HIV/AIDS medical community in renewing the call to prevent, treat, and cure HIV/AIDS.  Let us use World AIDS Day to renew our call to work on creating an AIDS-free generation.

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