Commemorating the 35th World AIDS Day
A Statement by Administrator Samantha Power
This year, World AIDS Day is a call to “Remember and Commit.”
Today, we do remember. We remember the horrors of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Twenty years ago, when President Bush announced the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – or PEPFAR – he quoted a doctor in rural South Africa who testified: “We have no medicines. Many hospitals tell people: ‘You’ve got AIDS. We can’t help you. Go home and die.’”
These words paint a chilling and vivid picture of the reality that millions faced before PEPFAR, when research suggested that AIDS would cause early death in as many as half of teenagers in the hardest hit countries of southern Africa.
PEPFAR helped countries take on this disease and turn the tide against AIDS. Its legacy is astounding: 25 million lives saved. 5.5 million babies born HIV-free.
But the threat of HIV/AIDS is far from over. 1.5 million children are still living with HIV, and only 57 percent of them are getting the life-saving treatment they need. If we fail to continue our critical, bipartisan response, gaps like this will only widen – threatening the progress that we have worked so hard to advance.
So now is the time to commit.
We must commit to reauthorize PEPFAR and to continue this lifesaving work – so that people with HIV are never again sent home to die, but that they live long, healthy lives, contribute fully to their communities, and help stop the spread of this devastating disease once and for all.