Today, Secretary Kerry marked the 10th Anniversary of the creation of the historic U.S. President’s Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by announcing that the millionth baby will be born HIV-free this month due to PEPFAR-supported prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs. The Secretary also announced that a new PEPFAR analysis shows that there are 13 countries that have reached the programmatic “tipping point” in their AIDS epidemic.
Through PEPFAR, as of September 30, 2012, the U.S. directly supported more than 5.1 million people on antiretroviral treatment (ART). This number is up from 1.7 million in 2008 – a three-fold increase in only four years.
In FY 2012, PEPFAR programs supported antiretroviral drugs (ARV) to prevent mother-to-child transmission for more than 750,000 pregnant women living with HIV. Thanks to this effort, an estimated 230,000 infant HIV infections were averted in 2012 alone. PEPFAR also supported HIV testing and counseling for more than 46.5 million people in 2012.
One Million Babies Born HIV-Free
This month, the one-millionth baby will be born HIV-free because of PEPFAR support – something unimaginable ten years ago when the program began. Antiretroviral drugs can prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The earliest PMTCT regimen decreased the likelihood that a mother would transmit HIV to her baby from 35 percent (with no PMTCT intervention) to 24 percent. Today, we have far more efficacious regimens and we have learned how to implement them more effectively. For example, under Option B+, the same combination of ARV medications used to treat adults living with HIV will be offered to all HIV positive pregnant women for life, reducing the likelihood that a mother will transmit HIV to her infant to less than five percent. In addition, Option B+ has the distinct advantages of maintaining the mother’s health, providing lifelong reduction of HIV transmission to uninfected sexual partners, and preventing mother-to-child transmission in future pregnancies.
Successful implementation of this approach across countries with high HIV burdens can help achieve the commitment made by President Obama on World AIDS Day in 2011 for the United States to support six million people on ART and provide antiretroviral drugs for 1.5 million pregnant women living with HIV by the end of 2013.
13 Countries Have Reached the Programmatic Tipping Point in Their Epidemic
One way of measuring progress toward the goal of an AIDS-free generation is to compare the number of annual new adult HIV infections with the annual increase in adults on treatment. By reducing infectivity through effective treatment and rapidly increasing coverage of ART, it is possible to bring the number of annual new adult HIV infections below the annual increase in adults on ART – thereby achieving the programmatic “tipping point.”
When the Obama Administration released the PEPFAR Blueprint for Creating an AIDS-Free Generation last World AIDS Day, seven countries were at this programmatic tipping point. According to a new PEPFAR analysis, 13 countries are actually at this tipping point.
This remarkable progress is thanks to the combined and coordinated efforts of all partners involved in the fight against global AIDS. Through PEPFAR, we are firmly committed to help countries in moving toward and beyond this tipping point. But we cannot do it alone. This is a shared responsibility.
PEPFAR Key Populations Challenge Grants
At the International AIDS Conference last July, Secretary Clinton announced the creation of a $20 million Key Populations Challenge Fund (KPCF) to support country-led plans to expand high-impact comprehensive package of HIV prevention, treatment, and care services for key populations, which include men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs (PWID), and sex workers (SW). HIV disproportionately impacts key populations. For example, some studies have shown that MSM were 19 times more likely to be living with HIV than people in the general population; and that SW were 13.5 times more likely to be living with HIV when compared to other females of reproductive age in the general population. Globally, among PWID, 16 million individuals report injection drug use, and an estimated three million PWID are living with HIV.
Secretary Kerry announced today that six countries (and two regional programs) will be awarded funds. The countries are Cambodia, Ghana, Nepal, Senegal, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. The regional programs include PEPFAR’s Asia and Central American regions. These funds will be leveraged as PEPFAR’s works hand-in-hand with partner country governments and civil society to strengthen sustainable programs and interventions for key populations.
PEPFAR Heroes Award
As part of the 10th anniversary commemoration, PEPFAR is launching the “PEPFAR Heroes: Giving Hope, Saving Lives” contest. The contest seeks to highlight outstanding individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and passion in serving people and/or communities living with and affected by HIV, and to convey the partnership of the American people with the people of partner countries in creating an AIDS-free generation.