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Today is the 20th anniversary of the day then-President George W. Bush announced the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) during the State of the Union Address in 2003.  At that time, in many countries, an AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence, and only 50,000 people across sub-Saharan Africa were receiving the life-saving HIV treatment they needed.

From 2003 through today, PEPFAR has maintained strong bipartisan support from Congress and from every Administration.

With the support of U.S. political leadership, the generosity of the American people, and our collaboration with partner governments and private and public organizations, the faith-based community, multilateral organizations, and many others, President Bush’s initial vision has become the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in the world.  The program has had remarkable success in achieving its goals.

When President Bush announced PEPFAR, he said, “seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many.”  And PEPFAR has turned that opportunity into reality.

Twenty years later, we have reversed the course of HIV/AIDS epidemics in high-disease burden countries.  Through PEPFAR, we have saved 25 million lives, and 5.5 million babies have been born HIV-free.  Over a million clients have received pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection.

Also, because of PEPFAR, we have seen more than a 50 percent reduction in new HIV infections in women 15 to 24 years of age, and a 65 percent reduction in new infections among men in the same age range.

Where only 50,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa were on HIV treatment in 2003, today, PEPFAR supports life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 20 million adults and children in Africa and beyond.  The public health infrastructure PEPFAR built with our partner countries has been leveraged to support responses for COVID-19, Ebola, and other emerging infectious diseases.

I would like to personally thank every person who has helped PEPFAR change the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic – including all the people on the front lines and everyone behind the scenes who have gone above and beyond to make this program a success – to save lives – to change the world!

Thank you for your support, which we will need to help us get through the last mile and to end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

PEPFAR’s extraordinary 20 years of impact is something we can all celebrate – today on the 20th anniversary, and every day as we continue to work together to bring an end to HIV and AIDS around the world.

Ambassador Dr. John N. Nkengasong serves as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. Department of State

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