AIDS No Longer Death Sentence in 21st Century

With over half of those eligible for treatment of HIV and AIDS are now accessing life-saving medications globally, the United States of America said AIDS is no longer a death sentence in the 21st century.

In her remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, on Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS, Terri Robl, U.S. Deputy Representative to ECOSOC says AIDS was wiping out a generation of individuals across the world. In addition, the disease has reversed important health and development gains, especially those being made in Africa ten years ago.

However, with the result of landmark scientific advances coupled with success in implementing effective programs, AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence and national HIV responses are more successful and sustainable.

Looking back: AIDS threatened the very foundation of societies.

Robert Gallo, codiscoverer of HIV.

According to Ms. Robl, ten years ago the world was overwhelmed and patients were not getting the antiretroviral treatment that was available.

“AIDS created millions of orphans, many of whom were unable to attend school without the support of a parent.” – Ms. Robl

PEPFAR saves lives

In response to the scourge of HIV and AIDS, in February 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush called for the creation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR. With bipartisan support from Congress, PEPFAR became the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease.

Ms. Robl says that under President Obama’s leadership, the United States has continued to strengthen commitment to PEPFAR, which this year marks its 10 year anniversary.

On November 29, 2012, the United States government released the PEPFAR Blueprint, which captures the experience and lessons learned over the last 10 years and provides a clear outline for how PEPFAR will work to help bring countries and beyond the programmatic tipping point in their epidemics.

“The United States is proud of the contribution that PEPFAR has made to the global AIDS fight, and we appreciate references made to the program by other delegations in their statements in this body.” – Ms. Robl

Scanning electron micrograph of HIV1, colored green, budding from a cultured lymphocyte.

10 years after

According to Ms. Robl, treatment efforts and a combination of other evidence-based prevention strategies have successfully dropped the rate of new HIV infections by more than half in 25 low-and-middle-income countries, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Albeit efforts aimed at HIV, countries have strengthened health systems, improved capacities around maternal health, immunization, and nutritional care, built and renovated child health clinics, and put laboratories in place that support providers as they make diagnoses and monitor care.

“Together, by scaling up programs with urgency and commitment, the world has demonstrated what is possible with focus, resources, and science.” – Ms. Robl

She says the impact of HIV investments over the last decade has been extraordinary.

The job still not finished

Ms. Robl says many countries have not reached universal access to treatment for HIV and AIDS, and the progress made in halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV is encouraging, but tenuous.

In addition, HIV remains the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age in low and middle income countries.

“We have learned from history that if we do not finish what we start, disease will resurge and with greater virulence.” – Ms. Robl

US remains committed to combat AIDS

Ms. Robl underlines that the United States remains committed to this global fight and will continue to support global efforts to ensure that the momentum to scale up HIV high impact prevention, treatment, and care interventions required to reach the MDG goals and to create an AIDS-free generation, is maintained and increased.

“But, we can’t do it alone. Creating an AIDS-free Generation is a shared responsibility.” – Ms. Robl

She says there is a need for continued commitment and leadership of partner countries, reinforced with support from civil society, people living with HIV, faith- based organizations, the private sector, foundations, donor nations, and multilateral institutions.

“To achieve sustainable health systems, we must work together with partner countries to advance their efforts to care for their own people.” – Ms. Robl

Global Fund remains critical to turn the tide against HIV

According to Ms. Robk, The Global Fund is, and will remain, critical to turn the tide against HIV, as well as TB and malaria.

Ms. Robl highlighted that towards this end, the United States calls on all nations to support the achievement of the ambitious goals set forth in the Global Fund’s Fourth Replenishment cycle.

She says President Obama’s FY 2014 budget of $1.65 billion for the Global Fund is a strong demonstration of its support.

“We challenge other donors to increase their contributions.” – Ms. Robl

She says this replenishment comes at a critical turning point for the Global Fund and for the global fight against these diseases.

Shared investments in programming and science over the past decade have lead to the current situation where they reach the tipping point of changing the course of these diseases, especially in reducing HIV incidence.

“The U.S. government is particularly pleased with the Global Fund’s progress in undertaking needed reforms.” – Ms. Robl

She says the US government is excited by the potential of the new funding model to maximize the impact of contributions to the Global Fund and it is grateful to the technical support provided by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

She stresses it is imperative that together the world can commit, maintain, and increase both the momentum and focus on HIV as one of the measurable components for global health goals beyond 2015.

US on creating an AIDS-free generation

With the world making progress to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, the United States of America has reiterated its commitment in creating an AIDS-free generation.

The US has said the ability to prevent and treat the disease has advanced beyond what many might have reasonably hoped 22 years ago.

Under President Barack Obama, the US government is building on the legacy to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

The PEPFAR is shifting out of emergency mode and starting to build sustainable health systems that will help the US government finally win this fight and deliver an AIDS-free generation.

The US governmnet has engaged diplomatically with ministers of finance and health, but also with presidents and prime ministers to listen and learn about their priorities and needs in order to chart the best way forward together.

With the progress the world is making together, the US says the world can look ahead to a historic goal: creating an AIDS-free generation.

In July 2010, President Obama launched the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which has reinvigorated the domestic response to the epidemic.

The US government is focusing on what they call combination prevention.

US strategy includes condoms, counseling and testing, and places special emphasis on three other interventions: treatment as prevention, voluntary medical male circumcision, and stopping the transmission of HIV from mothers to children, Ms. Clinton pointed out.

Globally, the US has supported its partner countries shifting their investments toward the specific mix of prevention tools that will have the greatest impact for their people.

On treatment as prevention, the United States has added funding for nearly 600,000 more people since September.

The US efforts are reaching nearly 4.5 million people now and closing in on its national goal of 6 million by the end of next year.

On male circumcision, the United States has supported more than 400,000 procedures since last December alone.

The PEPFAR will provide an additional $40 million to support South Africa’s plans to provide voluntary medical circumcisions for almost half a million boys and men in the coming year.

And on mother-to-child transmission, the US is committed to eliminating it by 2015, getting the number to zero.

In the first half of this fiscal year, the US has reached more than 370,000 women globally, and its is on track to hit PEPFAR’s target of reaching an additional 1.5 million women by next year.

In addition, the United States is accelerating its work on all three of these fronts in the effort to create an AIDS-free generation and look at how all these elements come together to make a historic impact.

In June 2011, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby pledged an additional $75 million for preventing mother-to-child transmission during the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS.

Nearly every minute, a baby is born with HIV. A child dies of AIDS every two minutes and one of every five maternal deaths in Africa is HIV-related.

The world has made incredible progress in closing the gap in developing countries thanks in great part to the commitment of the American people. In fiscal year 2010, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programs focused on preventing mother-to-child-transmission directly supported services that led to more than 114,000 children estimated to have been born free of HIV.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.