Is HIV/AIDS Now in Retreat?

PEPFAR continues to save lives

Saying that the creation of the landmark legislation PEPFAR as world’s largest and most successful foreign assistance program, the United States of America today said HIV/AIDS that seemed unstoppable is in retreat.

According to US Secretary John Kerry at the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) 10th Anniversary Celebration in Washington DC, the HIV infections have declined nearly 20 percent over the past decade.

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

He says that in Sub-Saharan Africa, both the number of new infections and AIDS-related deaths are down by almost one-third over the last decade.

In 2012, PEPFAR supported HIV testing and counseling for nearly 50 million people.

Aside that just 300,000 people in low and middle income countries were receiving anti-retroviral treatment 10 years ago, PEPFAR is directly supporting more than 5 million people on treatment today as well.

“Because of these successes, I am honored to make a very special announcement today, an announcement that we could literally only have dreamed about 10 years ago.” – Secretary Kerry

AIDS Clinic, McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India, 2010.

Through the support of PEPFAR, one millionth baby from becoming infected with HIV were saved which is a remarkable step, he added.

Reached truly landmark moment

According to Secretary Kerry, preventing mother-to-child transmission has been a central pillar of US fight against the disease.

Earlier this month, the US reached the truly landmark moment on the HIV/AIDS timeline.

He says one million babies, like Tatu’s daughter Faith, can grow up happy and healthy, go to school, realize their dreams, break out of this cycle.

More good news

Secretary Kerry says this is not the only good news, there are 13 countries which now passed a programmatic tipping point.

He says more people are newly receiving treatment than are newly infected.

“We are at this point, thanks to the combined and coordinated efforts of all partners in the fight of global against global AIDS.” -Secretary Kerry

However, for more countries to pass this tipping point and keep going in the right direction, there is still a need to reach those who are at the greatest risk of HIV infection.

To response to the problem, the United States announced the creation of a new $20 million fund to support key populations, people who are too often stigmatized, at risk, and neglected in July.

“And that means particularly men who have sex with men, it means people who inject drugs, and it means sex workers.” – Secretary Kerry

The recipients of this funding are Cambodia, Ghana, Nepal, Senegal, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and two regional programs.

A decade of remarkable progress

Secretary Kerry says it has been a decade of remarkable progress for countering the disease.

However, Secretary Kerry acknowldeges that the is not done and millions still become infected every year and millions are still dying.

“We can achieve an AIDS-free generation, and that is within our grasp now.” – Secretary Kerry

US redoubling its efforts

Secretary Kerry highlighted that under President Obama’s leadership, the US government has redoubled its efforts. And through PEPFAR, the U.S. now directly supports three times more people on antiretroviral drugs today than we did in 2008.

Before there was situation spiraling out of control, but today, the world sees a virtuous cycle beginning to form, with more people receiving treatment and fewer people passing on the virus.

He says fewer infections means it is now easier to actually focus treatment efforts.

“And with fewer people sick and dying, we are seeing healthier, more productive populations. That’s the virtuous cycle.” – Secretary Kerry

In addition, the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa are growing, and a generation is now able to look to the future with hope.

PEPFAR continues to touch lives

According to Secretary Kerry, as the progress continues, PEPFAR, over its next decade, will gradually evolve as US fight against the disease evolves, and that is going to happen both by necessity and by design.

He says achieving an AIDS-free generation is a shared responsibility and it is going to be a shared accomplishment.

“That is why PEPFAR is working to gradually and appropriately transfer responsibilities to host countries.” – Secretary Kerry

He explains that PEPFAR will shift from merely providing aid to co-investing in host countries’ capacity.

US unwavering commitment to combat HIV/AIDS

Secretary Kerry stresses that the commitment of President Obama, the State Department, to fighting HIV/AIDS is as undiminished as our work is unfinished.

He says US commitment has only been strengthened by the progress that it has made and the lives that they have saved.

“This story that we are able to tell today. This story compels us to continue.” – Secretary Kerry

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.

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.

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.