WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Thursday in recognition of World AIDS Day:
“Thirty years ago the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine issued a report calling for a ‘massive media, educational and public health campaign to curb the spread of the HIV infection.’ The global community heeded that call, and today, on World AIDS Day, we celebrate progress that we have made in treating and preventing HIV/AIDS both at home and abroad, and recommit ourselves to creating an AIDS-free generation.
“Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit an HIV/AIDS clinic in Namibia supported by PEPFAR and The Global Fund. While there I met a 30-year-old man named Simon who said he would not be alive without the international community’s HIV/AIDS assistance. While the individual stories of people like Simon are a testament to the hard-fought progress this global response has achieved, the aggregate impact of our efforts cannot be understated. PEPFAR has been a bipartisan success story that began with a strong commitment by President George W. Bush and grew under President Obama. It must continue to have broad-based support in a Trump Administration and in the 115th Congress so we can keep making inroads against this pernicious disease. Since 2005, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 percent globally. In Africa, new HIV infections have declined 14 percent since 2010, including a 66 percent reduction in new infections in children in the region. And today, 18.2 million men, women, and children worldwide are on anti-retroviral therapy, double the number that had access just five years ago.
“Nevertheless, there remains more work to be done. In my home state of Maryland, there were 1,334 new HIV diagnoses in 2015, ranking it the third highest adult HIV diagnosis rate per capita in the country. And globally we are seeing data that indicates AIDS-related deaths are increasing among adolescents. At home and abroad, such trends are troubling.
“We therefore cannot rest on our laurels. The United States must continue to lead this global fight. Through strong funding for PEPFAR and multilateral organizations like The Global Fund, we will ensure the continued commitment and leadership of partner countries reinforced with support from donor nations, civil society, and people living with HIV, faith-based organizations, the private sector, and foundations. And at here at home we must ensure that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and our state, local and community partners have the resources they need to continue making significant progress to prevent, treat and eventually cure this disease.
“With our work cut out for us, and the memories of far too many loved ones in our hearts, we strive on this World AIDS Day as an international community toward a world free of HIV/AIDS, and recommit to mobilize the resources needed for treatment, to summon the compassion and understanding to prevent stigma, and to unleash our collective ingenuity and persistence in search of a cure.”