On 30th Anniversary of HIV/AIDS, Stories of Success, Need for Continued Investment

June 13, 2011 By Jake Moy

On Friday, June 10th, the United Nations concluded a three day, High Level Meeting on the current state of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. The discussions marked the thirtieth anniversary of the first reported case of HIV/AIDS and both outlined the incredible progress made by the international community and called for a reenergized commitment to eradicate the virus.

Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, reflected on the remarkable expansion of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an International Affairs Budget program founded by President George W. Bush and continued by President Obama.  “In 2002, fewer than 50,000 people had access to treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa. PEPFAR now supports treatment for over 3.2 million people, the vast majority of whom live in Africa,” Goosby said.

At the meeting, global leaders stressed the continued importance of HIV/AIDS treatment to growth and stability, particularly in war-torn states. The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution outlining the need to minimize the spread of HIV/AIDS in conflict and post-conflict situations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted the critical role UN peacekeepers can play in combating the spread of AIDS. Referring to recent efforts to train peacekeepers in HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, Ban said, “They [trained peacekeepers] work so people recovering from war do not also have to recover from disease.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted U.S. leadership in the global HIV/AIDS effort in her written remarks and called PEPFAR “a key element of our foreign policy.” Echoing this assertion, Ambassador Goosby wrote, “Through the Global Health Initiative and PEPFAR, the Obama Administration has put maternal and child health at the forefront of the global health agenda. We believe that healthy families build healthy communities and more secure nations.”

HIV/AIDS has claimed more than 25 million lives since the first reported case thirty years ago. It continues to be a debilitating obstacle for many countries in their efforts to build security and foster growth, largely due to its enormous social and economic costs. The Millennium Development Goals aim to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, hoping to increase the health, capacity, and security of citizens in developing nations and to save millions of lives.