Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the continuing effort by the United States to combat AIDS in Africa and every corner of the world that AIDS touches. He joined Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday for a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
“Ten years ago, AIDS threatened the very foundation of societies in Africa– creating millions of orphans, stalling economic development and leaving countries stuck in poverty. The good news is that thanks to the ongoing, bipartisan U.S. commitment to the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), hope has replaced despair, life has replaced death, and productivity has replaced illness and disability. PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally, and it has saved and improved millions of lives.
“PEPFAR has bridged partisan divides and represents the best of America and our commitment to global humanitarian values. The numbers speak for themselves, and they are accelerating. Our initial goal was to provide antiretroviral treatment to 2 million people living with HIV in resource-limited settings, to prevent 7 million new HIV infections, and to provide care and support to 10 million people by 2010. PEPFAR now directly supports nearly 5.1 million people on antiretroviral treatment, contributing to a 20 percent drop in new HIV infections globally. PEPFAR also supports antiretroviral drugs to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to baby during birth, providing drugs to pregnant women living with HIV. Thanks to this effort, approximately one million infants were born without HIV. More than 49 million people received testing and counseling through PEPFAR. Research being done by Maryland institutions including the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland are making a difference globally.
“We still have challenges ahead of us. Our new goal is an HIV/AIDS-free generation. It is within our reach, but according to UNAIDS, an estimated 1.7 million people are dying annually from AIDS-related causes. Global health and development resources are being squeezed due to difficult economic times. And issues of stigma and discrimination continue to limit access to treatment and care to those in need. The U.S. will continue to lead this global fight, but we need the commitment and leadership of partner countries, reinforced with support from donor nations, civil society, people living with HIV, faith-based organizations, the private sector, foundations and multilateral institutions. We are able to leverage the commitment of our partners through US investments in the Global Fund. We have helped improve host country health care delivery systems, and countries are now taking ownership in their responsibility to care for their people.”