At an event at The George Washington University Washington, DC organised by the One and (RED) Campaigns and broadcast live on YouTube, President Obama made a historic commitment to “end the pandemic once and for all”, and stated, “today, we are looking ahead at the beginning of the end”. He called for a continuing bipartisan commitment against HIV/AIDS.
The numbers that matter
President Obama reiterated that the fight is not over and that America must continue to lead it. He praised the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) as one of President George W. Bush’s most impressive legacies. President Obama highlighted that as of September 2011, PEPFAR has provided antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for more than 3.9 million people; prevented 200,000 infant infections; and provided care and support to almost 13 million people including more than 4.1 million orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs).
Building on the findings of HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 on ARV treatment as HIV prevention presented at the International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference in July 2011 in Rome, President Obama committed to a new treatment target of 6 million people, i.e., 2 million more people than previously committed, by the end of 2013. The President also committed in the next two years to reach more than 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women with ARV drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission; support more than 4.7 voluntary medical male circumcisions (VMMCs) in Eastern and Southern Africa; and distribute more than 1 billion condoms.
Strong support for Global Fund
The Alliance welcomes President Obama’s strong support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He reconfirmed the U.S. Government’s three-year, $4 billion pledge. President Obama also called on existing donors to fulfill their promises and new donors – including previous recipients such as China – to make pledges.
President Obama’s strong support is especially important in light of the decision of the Global Fund Board in November 2011 to cancel its 11th funding round and delay program scale-up until 2014 because of lack of funding. This decision will have a devastating impact on people and communities affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as TB and malaria.
The Alliance fears that the progress towards universal access over the past ten years since the creation of the Global Fund is seriously at risk. The Alliance urges other world leaders to respond to President Obama’s call to step up, and we call on them to contribute an additional $2 billion to the Global Fund before the International AIDS Conference in July 2012 in Washington. These $2 billion are urgently needed to meet the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and put the world on the path towards ending AIDS.
As President Obama clearly stated, “We can end this pandemic … we just have to keep it steady … until we get to zero”. The Alliance recognises that the U.S. Government has done more than any other institution to fight HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR and the Global Fund. We declare that it is now time for donors and affected countries across the world to show the same political leadership. The clock is ticking. Millions of lives are at stake.
We declare that it is now time to show political leadership. The clock is ticking.