On World AIDS Day, we honor heroes in the fight against HIV/AIDS and join in remembrance with those who have lost loved ones. Above all, we reaffirm our commitment to defeating HIV/AIDS. I am proud to join President Obama’s call to achieve an AIDS-free generation.
On the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS, the United States is mounting an extraordinary effort to win this fight. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has transformed the lives of millions of people since it was created by President Bush in 2003. In the current fiscal year alone, it has provided antiretroviral treatment to more than 3.9 million people. At the same time, PEPFAR has become more efficient, driving down costs per patient from over $1100 to $335 per year. As a consequence, record numbers of lives have been improved by PEPFAR programs under the current Administration.
Today, President Obama announced that we will increase our treatment targets from 4 million to 6 million people by the end of 2013 and ramp up our targets for other prevention methods, moving us closer to the AIDS-free generation that we know is now possible. But there is far more work to do. To this day, AIDS-related illnesses have claimed more than 25 million lives, exceeding the death toll of any conflict during 30 years of struggle. HIV/AIDS has strained states, fractured families, and contributed enormously to the vicious cycle of global poverty that creates havens for those who wish to do harm. We urge our partners around the world to join us in doing more to eradicate this global threat.
As President Obama has noted, an AIDS-free generation is an ambitious but achievable goal. By following the science, committing to smart investments in both prevention and treatment, and sharing responsibility, we can realize his vision. On World AIDS Day and every day, let us honor and support those who will rid the world of this devastating disease.