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On the Road to an AIDS-Free Generation

By Eric Goosby

January 3, 2013

On the Road to an AIDS-Free Generation

2012 was an extraordinary year (PDF 707KB).

As of September 30, 2012, PEPFAR directly supported lifesaving antiretroviral treatment (ART) for nearly 5.1 million people -- a nearly three-fold increase since 2008. PEPFAR also supported drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission for nearly 750,000 HIV-positive women in 2012 alone, allowing approximately 230,000 infants to be born HIV-free, and HIV testing and counseling for more than 46.5 million people over the same time period.

These are not just statistics but they represent lives saved, and hope renewed for millions of families and communities. A decade ago, almost no one in Africa was receiving treatment. Today, over 8 million men, women, and children in developing countries are on ART, with the vast majority of them being in sub-Saharan Africa.

Every American should be profoundly proud of the United States' role in supporting this progress. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have repeatedly reaffirmed America's commitment to the global fight against AIDS through PEPFAR. In November 2011, the Secretary declared that the world is at the point where an AIDS-free generation is in sight. On World AIDS Day 2011, the President announced ambitious new PEPFAR prevention and treatment targets, which we are on track to reach by the end of 2013.

This past July, the 19th International AIDS Conference came to the U.S. for the first time since 1990. During the Conference, Secretary Clinton called on PEPFAR to develop a blueprint to inform the next Congress, the next Secretary of State, and all of our partners about all that we have learned, and how the U.S. will contribute to creating an AIDS-free generation moving forward. And in recognition of World AIDS Day 2012, the Secretary unveiled the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation (PDF 2.6MB), which sends an unequivocal message that the U.S. commitment to the global AIDS response will remain strong, comprehensive, and driven by science.

Through the contributions of many partners, a new day has dawned in the global AIDS response. New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are on the decline, and national health systems have been strengthened to deliver a broader range of essential health services to the populations that they serve. Partner countries are increasingly assuming the central leadership in coordinating their AIDS response. Thankfully, long gone are the overcrowded medical wards that I witnessed as a clinician in San Francisco in the early 1980s, when we had little to offer patients beyond a more dignified death; or the time just a decade ago when AIDS was wiping out an entire generation in Africa. Today, while the fight is far from over, we are on the road to achieving an AIDS-free generation.

Now, we must redouble our efforts to get there. As outlined in the PEPFAR Blueprint, we will continue our focus on: saving lives by investing in proven HIV interventions; making smart investments by targeting interventions to populations at greatest risk; promoting sustainability, efficiency, and effectiveness across our programs to maximize the impact of each dollar we spend; partnering with countries in a joint move to country-led, managed, and implemented responses, and working closely with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other partners around a shared global responsibility to reach more of those in need; and driving results with science by using the knowledge we already have, and supporting continued innovation.

As we enter the tenth year of PEPFAR, we do so filled with great hope for a future where an AIDS-free generation is, as Secretary Clinton stated, not just a rallying cry -- it is a goal within our reach. And I am confident that 2013 can be another extraordinary year.

Ambassador Eric Goosby is the U.S. global AIDS coordinator.




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