News Roundup: World AIDS Day

Leaders and activists around the world gathered today to celebrate progress and call for renewed commitments in the fight against AIDS. In honor of World AIDS Day, MFAN Partner ONE hosted  and event with former Presidents Bush and Clinton, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), and President Obama, who announced a new target of treating 6 million people by 2013. The discussion centered on the role of targeted, effective aid in AIDS prevention.  Read President Obama’s remarks, and visit ONE’s YouTube page to watch the full event.

Halting the spread of AIDS is a priority for the U.S.  and, as President Bush noted, an key investment in healthier populations and a thriving global economy. See below for pieces discussing the progress and potential of the fight to end AIDS.

  • No Retreat in the Fight Against AIDS (Wall Street Journal – George W. Bush, 12/1): In 2003, there were just 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa on antiretroviral therapy to suppress HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Today, more than 4.7 million people receive AIDS treatment through Pepfar and the Global Fund. At least 450,000 children have been born HIV-negative due to Pepfar’s diagnosis and treatment programs that prevent mother-to-child transmission. In the process, we established a new, more rigorous model of foreign assistance. The leadership of Pepfar was given sufficient resources and authority—and then held accountable for measured outcomes. Focus countries were treated as full partners. Government worked closely with private and religious groups. The U.S. government, local governments and private donors worked toward a single, coordinated, emergency response.
  • A Decade of Progress on AIDS (New York Times – Bono, 12/1): Yet today, here we are, talking seriously about the “end” of this global epidemic. There are now 6.6 million people on life-saving AIDS medicine. But still too many are being infected. New research proves that early antiretroviral treatment, especially for pregnant women, in combination with male circumcision, will slash the rate of new H.I.V. cases by up to 60 percent. This is the tipping point we have been campaigning for. We’re nearly there. How did we get here? America led. I mean really led. The United States performed the greatest act of heroism since it jumped into World War II. When the history books are written, they will show that millions of people owe their lives to the Yankee tax dollar, to just a fraction of an aid budget that is itself less than 1 percent of the federal budget.
  • Obama Sets New U.S. Goal on Fighting AIDS (Reuters – Caren Bohan, 12/1): President Barack Obama vowed on Thursday to bolster U.S. efforts to fight AIDS, setting a new goal of providing treatment to 6 million people worldwide, up from the earlier goal of 4 million. Obama, at a World AIDS Day event, also challenged other nations to boost their commitments and called on China to “step up” as a major donor in the effort to expand access to AIDS drugs. “We can beat this disease. We can win this fight. We just have to keep at it, today, tomorrow, and every day until we get to zero,” Obama said at the forum, where he credited his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, for his efforts to combat AIDS and HIV.
  • Now Is Not the Time to Cut Funding for HIV & AIDS (Guardian Blog – Paul Boateng & Aaron Oxley, 12/1): This World Aids Day we have some reason to celebrate: fewer people are contracting HIV….The tide of the epidemic is turning, and huge gains have been made in treatment, care and support. But the world risks complacency on three of our most deadly diseases: HIV, TB and malaria. The gains made on HIV have been overshadowed by the decision last week by the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria to cancel all new funding for the three diseases until 2014. A similar disregard for health spending has been demonstrated by world leaders gathered in Busan this week to discuss aid effectiveness, indicating that developments at the Global Fund are symptomatic of a wider trend for global leaders to take their eyes off the ball with respect to health.

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