Momentum in the AIDS Battle
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because we’re actually making progress against a disease that once seemed hopeless.
By Emily Cadei
“An AIDS-free generation.” It’s a catchy slogan but one that until recently sounded like a fantasy. But with big gains on both the policy and treatment fronts in 2013, activists think they have the momentum in the fight against HIV and AIDS. And there are signs that what was once entirely aspirational could now start to become a reality in our lifetime.
In 2013, the United States marked the 10-year anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, more commonly known by its acronym, PEPFAR. The landmark program, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003, is one of the most successful U.S. foreign aid programs ever, saving millions of lives by providing cheap antiretroviral drugs for poor people overseas living with HIV or AIDS. And after some early foot dragging, Congress sent an extension of the law to President Obama’s desk last month. He’s expected to sign it any day, extending PEPFAR’s legal authority and adding some new provisions.
Through PEPFAR, the United States is also the top donor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international organization that unites governments, business and private NGOs like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to raise money to combat AIDS, among other diseases. This week, the Global Fund is bringing leaders from the public and private sectors together to raise funds and chart the course for its next two years, which, because of its reach, will in turn shape the efforts to treat and prevent the disease around the world.
Advocates hope the Global Fund meeting will set a bold tone for the next round of the fight against HIV-AIDS, following the example set by a number of individual countries, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa, who have dramatically cut new infection rates in recent years. Three of those countries are now on track to eliminate new infections, entirely, by the end of the decade.
BY THE NUMBERS
13: The number of countries where PEPFAR works that are at the “programmatic tipping point” in their fight against AIDS – the point where the annual increase in adults on treatment is greater than the number of annual new adult HIV infections.
26: The number of countries who have cut HIV infection rates by more than 50 percent between 2001 and 2012, according UN AIDS’ 2013 report.
2.3 million: The number of new HIV infections around the world in 2012. According to UN AIDS, it’s the lowest number of annual new infections since the mid-to-late 1990s.
6 million: The number of people living with AIDS that PEPFAR aims to help treat by the end of 2013.
12 million: The number of people with AIDS that PEPFAR should aim to treat by the end of fiscal 2016, as called for by 38 members of Congress in a letter to President Obama last month.
$15 billion: The Global Fund’s fundraising target for its replenishment conference in Washington, D.C., this week, which will support countries fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria from 2014 to 2016.