Director, Division of Global HIV/AIDS, Center for Global Health, CDC
This World AIDS Day, CDC and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) commemorate a decade of success in fighting global HIV/AIDS. Ten years ago, this modern-day plague was devastating the health and wellbeing of millions of individuals in communities across Africa and in other resource-poor countries around the world. Today, we celebrate the extraordinary progress we have made in reducing new HIV infections and providing life-saving care and treatment to those who are living with HIV/AIDS.
With resources available through PEPFAR, we have provided antiretroviral drug treatment (ART) to millions and increased life expectancy rates in much of Africa. HIV infected patients have returned to the workforce, enabling them to provide for themselves, their families, and communities; and AIDS-related deaths are declining worldwide. In June, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the joyous news of the millionth baby born HIV-free thanks to life-saving PEPFAR-funded programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. New pediatric HIV infections have dropped by nearly 50% since PEPFAR began.
CDC contributions have played a critically important part in all of these accomplishments. Throughout the past decade, CDC has been advancing science and innovation, and making strategic investments to build the capacity of host countries to lead their own responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The next 10 years will be equally pivotal as CDC continues to implement proven biomedical interventions that will dramatically decrease the impact of HIV/AIDS, including PMTCT, ART to prevent new HIV infections, and voluntary medical male circumcision. CDC is assessing the impact of rapidly bringing these core prevention interventions to scale in countries with high HIV/AIDS burdens, while it continues to emphasize the importance of HIV testing and counseling as the gateway to all prevention and treatment interventions.
The theme for this World AIDS Day – Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation – reflects the global commitment and collaboration needed to achieve this inspiring goal championed by President Barack Obama in his 2013 State of the Union Address. Creating an AIDS-free generation is possible only if all stakeholders share responsibility. CDC continues to work side-by-side with countries, to ensure complementary, coordinated programming that maximizes the impact of our collective investments.
While the accomplishments made in the fight against HIV/AIDS are impressive, there is still much work to be done. UNAIDS reported that 2.3 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2012, and an estimated 1.6 million people died from AIDS-related causes that same year. However, we know that we have reached a historic crossroads. Just a few years ago, many experts thought it was too late to turn the tide of the epidemic. Thankfully, by continuing to work together, what was once considered an impossible dream is now within our grasp.