From July 18 to 23, I will lead the U.S. Government delegation to the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria. This year's meeting is particularly important for those of us involved in the fight against global AIDS. Working together, the global community has made tremendous progress on HIV/AIDS, thanks in large part to U.S. leadership through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The United States finances more than half of the global response to the epidemic, and we are building on PEPFAR and other successful global health efforts under the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI).
The conference brings together an estimated 25,000 participants, including scientists, health care providers, people living with HIV/AIDS, community and business leaders, government, non-governmental, and multilateral organization representatives, to discuss efforts to stop HIV/AIDS. The United States will use this opportunity to share data, best practices, and lessons learned from PEPFAR's programs with the global community. For those who cannot attend in person, sessions from the conference can be viewed online thanks to the Kaiser Family Foundation's webcast coverage of the conference.
America's Commitment to Global AIDS
President Barack Obama announced the comprehensive GHI in 2009. As I discussed in a blog in February, PEPFAR is the cornerstone of this effort. As part of GHI, the United States has increased funding for PEPFAR in a very tight fiscal environment. President Obama requested increases for PEPFAR in both his fiscal year 2010 and 2011 budgets. But the metric for success is not money spent, but lives saved. The number of people directly supported on treatment increased in 2009 from approximately 1.6 million to nearly 2.5 million. The number supported in 2010 and coming years will continue to grow toward the stated GHI goal of treatment for more than four million. Through GHI, the United States will work to ensure that our global health investments are complementary and integrated, allowing for expanded health services for people affected by HIV at PEPFAR-supported sites, and expanded HIV/AIDS services for clients of other U.S. health programs.
HIV and the Millennium Development Goals
The integrated GHI approach recognizes that HIV/AIDS responses are central to fulfilling Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4, 5, and 6, and the health of women and children is central to the GHI. AIDS is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age globally, and has had a devastating impact on women and children. The success of PEPFAR and other programs has been key for progress not only around infectious disease, but also on building and supporting the systems that help maternal and child health. On July 18, I will speak more about this topic during a special session on "HIV and Millennium Development Goals: Can We Do One Without the Other?"
Building on Lessons Learned
PEPFAR programs are building on key lessons learned to date, and one of these is that prevention is central. PEPFAR is prioritizing evidence-based prevention interventions tailored to local epidemiology — scaling up interventions that work, prioritizing prevention for vulnerable groups, accelerating promising research, and measuring and evaluating program impact. On July 20, I will join Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, Chief of HIV/AIDS, UNICEF; Bill Roedy, Chief Executive Officer, MTV Networks International; and Dina Borzekowski, Researcher, Johns Hopkins University for a press conference on Shuga — a hard-hitting drama for young people on HIV prevention produced through a groundbreaking public-private partnership. Through these and other efforts to use our resources wisely, the world community can increase our impact.
Through Shuga and other PEPFAR-supported HIV prevention, treatment and care programs, the U.S. has learned a great deal during PEPFAR's initial emergency phases. As the program matures, there is an opportunity to make each dollar go farther and support more people — including those on treatment — through innovation and improved efficiency. We also recognize that a woman-centered approach is fundamental to reaching our goals. GHI notes that improving the health status of women also benefits their families and communities, and in light of the devastating impact of HIV on women and girls, the United States is committed to ensuring that all programs meet their needs. I will be co-chairing a UNAIDS-sponsored satellite session on July 19 focused on eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission, and PEPFAR is sponsoring a satellite symposium on July 18 on "Gender Programming and Practices: Practical Approaches for Integration with HIV/AIDS.”
Fostering a Shared Response
In order to win the fight against HIV/AIDS, the world must come together and contribute their unique strengths. As part of America's support for country ownership, the United States is supporting partner governments in identifying and prioritizing unmet need, and converging diverse funding streams — including from their own budgets to the extent possible — to meet it. A central focus of PEPFAR is increasing country ownership in HIV strategy, program design, and implementation. PEPFAR is sponsoring a satellite symposium on July 18 on “Advancing Country Ownership: Achieving Program Sustainability and Long-Term Impact.” This session will be an opportunity for representatives from PEPFAR countries, the private sector, and civil society to come together to discuss steps to advance this important principle.
We recognize that the fight against HIV cannot be won by one country alone. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is an essential partner, and a key mechanism for meeting HIV needs in resource-constrained countries. In addition to being its largest contributor, at the country level, the United States supports the Global Fund through planning support and technical assistance to facilitate grant implementation.
The United States appreciates the opportunity to come together with partner countries, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and civil society to advance the fight against HIV/AIDS. I look forward to sharing updates through this forum on what I am sure will be a very productive 2010 International AIDS Conference.
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