2011 marks 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were documented and the world has made incredible progress in its efforts to understand, prevent and treat this pandemic. AIDS used to be a ready death sentence, but by the end of 2010 more than 6.6 million people were on life-saving antiretroviral treatment, up from just 100,000 in 2003. Technology now makes it possible to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother‐to-child in as many as 98% of cases.
New research has shown that the rate of new HIV infections can be drastically reduced with a combination of existing and new technologies.
But despite great progress, for every person who goes on treatment, nearly two more are infected. HIV/AIDS currently infects 34 million men, women, and children, and more than 29 million have died. Infection rates have been especially high on the continent of Africa.
Funding for AIDS has leveled off. Now more than ever, we must recommit ourselves to the fight against HIV and to achieving specific, measurable goals that will help us bend the curve of this pandemic.
There are an estimated nine million people still in need of treatment. More than 370,000 children are infected with HIV each year. If we are to defeat the disease that has caused such enormous human suffering we must commit to forge ahead, to be bold and ambitious, without reservation.
We can turn this tragedy around. We might actually see the beginning of the end of AIDS - if we have the political will.
Please call on President Obama to focus his Administration on defeating HIV and stepping up U.S. global leadership in this arena.