AIDS Day is December 1: an opportunity to come together
in a spirit of remembrance for those who have been lost
to this disease, compassion for those who are suffering
today, and commitment to help others remain free from infection.
Despite the continuing tragedy of HIV/AIDS, there is a growing
basis for hope. The successes the United States has achieved,
working in partnership with some of the most severely affected
nations, demonstrate the difference that action can make
– and challenge the world community to greater action.
The theme of this year’s World AIDS
Day is “Keep the Promise,” and the United States
is doing just this. In 2003, President George W. Bush led
the world into action when he announced the President’s
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – a five-year, $15
billion, multifaceted approach to combating the disease
in 123 countries around the world. This is the largest international
health initiative directed at a single disease that any
nation has ever undertaken. With the strong support of Congress
and the American people, the United States now leads the
world’s donor nations in its level of financial commitment
to the fight.
The Emergency Plan supports diverse prevention,
care and treatment strategies, with an intense focus on
making the money work. The heart of this strategy is partnership
with host nations to build a locally-driven response to
the pandemic. HIV/AIDS will be a fact of life for many years
to come in these nations, and the fight against HIV/AIDS
will only succeed today, and be sustainable tomorrow, if
the local population owns it.
Here’s how President Bush recently
put it: “This effort is succeeding because America
is providing resources and Africans are providing leadership.
Local health officials set the strategy and we're supporting
them.” The Emergency Plan is working in support of
host nations’ HIV/AIDS strategies, helping them to
build comprehensive and effective national responses that
can be sustained for the long term.
HIV/AIDS is an incredibly complex disease,
and the Emergency Plan supports a correspondingly varied
range of locally-designed interventions. To help people
protect themselves, U.S. partnerships support the “ABC”
strategies developed in Africa (abstain, be faithful, and
correct and consistent use of condoms). Other key prevention
efforts focus on increasing HIV counseling and testing,
preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, ensuring
safe blood and safe medical injections, helping injecting
drug users, and meeting the special challenges of women
Another prevention focus is meeting the
many challenges of women and girls in the nations hardest-hit
by HIV/AIDS. In Kenya, the U.S. supports outreach with Maasai
communities that has led to changes in traditional practices,
eliminating high-risk sexual behavior while preserving cultural
heritage. For example, new cohorts of warriors are renouncing
the practice of being honored by young women with sexual
Treatment is another key element. When the
initiative was announced, there were only 50,000 people
receiving lifesaving antiretroviral treatment in sub-Saharan
Africa. The United States initiative has supported locally-owned,
multisectoral programs in Africa that have vastly increased
this figure -- and the number continues to grow rapidly.
The United States is supporting care for people living with
HIV/AIDS and for orphans and vulnerable children on a massive
scale. Care programs range from helping people living with
HIV/AIDS in a village in Thailand learn income-generating
skills to helping child heads of households in Rwanda care
for their younger siblings
Accountability, which has not always been
a focus of international development initiatives, is central
to the Emergency Plan. The United States is working to help
host nations improve their ability to monitor programs and
evaluate what works. All donors must ensure that only programs
that show results continue to be funded, and that the lessons
we learn are applied to make our programs more successful.
As success grows, how can other nations
that do not have large-scale bilateral programs like the
United States increase their commitment to fighting global
HIV/AIDS? The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and
Malaria is a key multilateral initiative. While the U.S.
remains by far the Fund’s largest donor for now, the
Fund provides a vehicle for other governments to intensify
In partnership with many nations,
the locally-owned successes the U.S. has supported to make
the money work on the ground today and build sustainable
responses provide a strong foundation for the future. In
this spirit of partnership, may the world community rededicate
itself to creating hope for a future free of HIV/AIDS.
To learn more about the World AIDS
Campaign and how people around the world are renewing their
commitment to the fight on World AIDS Day, visit http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/.
More information also is available on the
Aids Day 2005 Web site of the Joint United Nations Programme
on HIV’AIDS to highlight December 1 (World Aids Day
More information on the AIDS
Alliance for Children, Youth & Families is available
on the group’s Web site.
For the latest developments, see HIV/AIDS.