The US Leadership Against HIV

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Thank you all very much. I’m so pleased that so many could be here to witness this historic moment, as our nation sets forth a great mission of rescue. The United States of America has a long tradition of sacrifice in the cause of freedom. And we’ve got a long tradition of being generous in the service of humanity.

HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest medical challenges of our time. The disease has killed more than 20 million people. Today, 42 million more are living with HIV. Across Africa, this disease is filling graveyards, creating orphans and leaving millions in a desperate fight for their own lives. They will not fight alone, because they will have the help and the friendship of the United States of America. The legislation I sign today launches an emergency effort that will provide US $15 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS abroad. This is the largest single up front commitment in history for an international public health initiative involving a specific disease. America makes this commitment for a clear reason, directly rooted in our founding. We believe in the value and dignity of every human life.

In the face of preventable death and suffering, we have a moral duty to act, and we are Act of Congress addresses one of the most urgent needs of the modern world. Because of the AIDS pandemic, a child born today in sub Sahara Africa has a life expectancy of 47 years. This disease falls most heavily on women and children. Nearly 60 percent of those infected by HIV in sub Sahara Africa are women. Three million African children under 15 have the AIDS virus, 3 million. And the disease has left 11 million orphans, more children than live in the entire state of California.

Behind these numbers are names. There is Monogenic, a 15yearold boy who lost both his mother and father to AIDS, and now struggles to feed his two siblings and two nephews. Taken into net home all of them AIDS orphans, all of whom would be on the without her love. There is Ruth, a young mother dying of AIDS at 24, ostracism late husband’s family, asking, “Who will take care of my children,” This is the daily reality of a continent in crisis, and America will not look away.

The fight against AIDS is difficult, but not hopeless. We know how to prevent AIDS, and we know how to treat it. The cost of effective medicines has fallen dramatically. And we made progress here in our own country where we have increased spending for domestic HIV prevention and care and treatment by 7 percent in next year’s budget. We will also help the people across Africa who is struggling against this disease, and those who have proven on a day-by-day basis the battle can be won. And now we must spread that progress to suffering nations throughout the world. By the legislation I will sign today, the United States of America will take the side of individuals and groups and governments fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa and other parts of the world. We’ll provide unprecedented resources to the effort. And we will keep our commitment until we have turned the tide against AIDS.

America will provide additional money for the Global Fund for AIDS Relief, and additional funding for our efforts in many countries to prevent mothertochild transmission of the disease. And we will focus our efforts on 12 African and two Caribbean countries where HIV/AIDS is heavily concentrated. We will purchase low cost antiretroviral medications and other drugs that are needed to save lives. We will set up a broad and efficient network to deliver drugs to the farthest reaches of Africa. Even by motorcycle, or bicycle. We will train doctors and nurses and other health care professionals so they can treat HIV/AIDS patients. We will renovate and, where necessary, build and equip clinics and laboratories. We will support the care of AIDS orphans by training and hiring childcare workers. We’ll provide home based care to ease the suffering of people living with AIDS.

We’ll provide HIV testing throughout all regions of the targeted countries. We’ll support abstinence based prevention education for young people in schools and churches and community centers. We will assist faith based and community organizations to provide treatment prevention and support services in communities affected by HIV/AIDS. We are developing a system to monitor and evaluate this entire program, so we can truly say to people, we care more about results than words. We’re interested in lives saved. And lives will be saved.

This comprehensive program has the potential in this decade to prevent 7 million new HIV infections, provide life extending drugs to at least 2 million infected people, give humane care to 10 million HIV sufferers and AIDS orphans. This is a massive undertaking, and the dedicated men and women of the United States government are eager to get started.

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