The UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS will be held at UN Headquarters from June 8-10, 2011. The meeting marks the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS in the United States. It is also the 10th anniversary of the General Assembly’s historic Special Session that led to the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. Member States are expected to adopt a new Declaration that will not only reaffirm current commitments, but commit to additional actions to guide and sustain the global AIDS response in the coming years.
During the meeting, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will join with UNAIDS and other partners in releasing a new global action plan for the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV/AIDS. The U.S. will also place additional resources into helping move towards eliminating pediatric HIV.
Thirty years ago the picture of the AIDS epidemic was bleak. But by 2001, lifesaving treatment had begun to be available in the developed world. However, developing nations still lacked access to needed medicines. The General Assembly’s 2001 Special Session on HIV/AIDS was a catalytic moment, highlighting the need and the shared responsibility to fight the pandemic.
A critical first step was the establishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2001. This provided a vehicle for countries, the private sector, and individual citizens to contribute to work against the three diseases. The United States was proud to make the founding contribution to the Global Fund in 2002, and has remained by far its largest single donor, with the Obama Administration making an unprecedented multi-year pledge to the Fund last year. The Obama Administration has also been a leader in efforts to reform Fund operations designed to improve the impact of its grants.
Globally, the United States helped to transform the situation in 2003 by providing help and hope through PEPFAR, the largest international response to a single disease any country has ever undertaken. President Bush launched the effort with strong bipartisan support, and it is now the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative.
At the beginning of 2003 when PEPFAR was announced, fewer than 50,000 people had access to treatment in all of sub-Saharan Africa. The situation is remarkably different today. Through September 2010, PEPFAR supported treatment for over 3.2 million people, the vast majority of whom live in Africa. Globally, over 6 million people in low- and middle-income countries are now receiving treatment. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. also supports over 3.8 million orphans and vulnerable children, giving them a chance at education, nutrition and a better life.
Perhaps most important of all, the global community has begun to see real progress on reducing new infections – the single most difficult challenge posed by HIV. The number of new infections each day globally has dropped from 16,000 in 2001 to 7,000 in 2009. During this era of heightened commitment, 33 nations, including 22 in sub-Saharan Africa, have experienced declines in HIV incidence of 25 percent or more.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton remain unwavering in their longstanding commitment to fight global AIDS. During her trip to Africa later this week, Secretary Clinton will highlight the progress being made against HIV/AIDS.