PEPFAR Celebrates 20th Anniversary
On January 28, 2023, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) marked its 20th anniversary. On January 28, 2003, President George W. Bush announced the establishment of PEPFAR during the State of the Union Address, leveraging years of HIV/AIDS research, coordinated humanitarian effort, bipartisan support from Congress, and engagement from community and faith-based organizations, and the private sector to create an unprecedented response to a global health crisis. At that time, in many countries, an AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence, and only 50,000 people across sub-Saharan Africa were receiving the life-saving HIV treatment they needed.
Two decades later, PEPFAR supports nearly 65 million people with HIV treatment and testing services, providing more than 20 million men, women, and children with life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART).
To build on the program’s enduring legacy, PEPFAR is reinvigorating the U.S. global response to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030, creating a healthier, safer, and more secure world for all. As part of a new five-year strategy, Fulfilling America’s Promise to End the HIV/AIDS Pandemic by 2030, PEPFAR is advocating for and working with partners to close health equity gaps in children, adolescent girls and young women, and key populations, while achieving sustained HIV impact worldwide to combat HIV/AIDS as a security threat amid other emerging health challenges.
“At a time when nearly 30 million people were HIV positive, but very few were receiving life-saving medicines, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) transformed the global AIDS response and laid a marker for America’s commitment to countries that were impacted the hardest by the AIDS epidemic,” observed President Joe Biden in a statement. “To this day, PEPFAR remains a powerful example of America’s unmatched ability to drive progress and make life better for people around the world … My Administration is committed to continuing to lead the global HIV/AIDS response. We will build on our decades of progress to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of ending AIDS by 2030, work to eliminate the stigma and inequities that keep people from accessing care, and keep the voices of people living with HIV/AIDS at the center of our response.” Read President Biden’s full statement.
“With bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress and the generosity of the American people, PEPFAR has provided over 20.1 million people with life-saving HIV treatment in over 55 countries,” observed Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his statement. “However, we know that progress in ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic can be easily reversed without focused, sustained, and equitable action. We cannot achieve our goal to end HIV/AIDS as a global health threat if we deny people’s rights or if we allow stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS or those who are most vulnerable to acquiring HIV.” Read Secretary Blinken’s full statement.
“When President Bush announced PEPFAR, he said, ‘seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many.’ And PEPFAR has turned that opportunity into reality,” shared Ambassador Dr. John Nkengasong, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy at the U.S. State Department. “Twenty years later, we have reversed the course of HIV/AIDS epidemics in high-disease burden countries. Through PEPFAR, we have saved 25 million lives, and 5.5 million babies have been born HIV-free. Over a million clients have received pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection … Where only 50,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa were on HIV treatment in 2003, today, PEPFAR supports life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 20 million adults and children in Africa and beyond. The public health infrastructure PEPFAR built with our partner countries has been leveraged to support responses for COVID-19, Ebola, and other emerging infectious diseases … PEPFAR’s extraordinary 20 years of impact is something we can all celebrate—today on the 20th anniversary, and every day as we continue to work together to bring an end to HIV and AIDS around the world.” Read Ambassador Nkengasong’s full statement.