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Powell: AIDS Poses Challenge to Global Community

AIDS Poses Challenge to Global Community

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Op-Ed
Sacramento Bee
December 1, 2004

Today, on World AIDS Day, our thoughts turn to the millions of people across the globe who are living with HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day is a time to reflect on the tragic toll this disease continues to take - 8,000 die every single day. It is also a time to remember that governments and citizens across the globe have the power to take actions that will save lives and ease suffering.

For our part, the American people can be proud that the United States is a leader in shaping the international response to this global challenge.

President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has transformed the world's response, elevating HIV/AIDS to the highest levels of international discussion-and action.

It is less than two years since President Bush announced the Emergency Plan - a $15 billion initiative over five years to target prevention, care and treatment. When fully funded, the Emergency Plan will be the largest international health initiative ever undertaken by any nation to fight a single disease.

The U.S. commitment reflects President Bush's view that HIV/AIDS is not only a global humanitarian crisis but a foreign policy issue of the highest importance. An epidemic that devours the social foundations of entire countries, leaving destitute and unstable states in its wake, cannot be left to rage. "Bureaucracy as usual" was unacceptable in dealing with this emergency, and we have moved forward urgently.

The U.S. government has made remarkable progress during the Emergency Plan's first year of implementation. We have invested $2.4 billion - more than the rest of the world's donor nations combined - to extend the lives and ameliorate the suffering of people infected with HIV/AIDS. The United States is supporting thousands of programs that will provide antiretroviral therapy for over 200,000 people in 15 countries during this first year. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, this will double the number of people receiving this lifesaving treatment.

One such person is Buse Banga of Zambia. When she arrived at the Mother Teresa Hospice in Lusaka, Buse lay in a coma. Her neighbors had given her up for dead. But after just two weeks receiving antiretroviral treatment in a U.S.-supported clinic, Buse opened her eyes. Several days later, she returned home, standing tall and full of life, to the joyful astonishment of her friends and family. By 2008, the Emergency Plan will help to create similar stories for 2 million more people.

Beyond our bilateral efforts, through our role in international organizations like UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the United States is helping other donor governments deepen their commitment to stemming the spread of infectious disease. President Bush provided the founding contribution to the Global Fund, and the United States remains far and away the world's largest donor to it.

The President's Emergency Plan is working with the Global Fund and other international organizations to implement the "Three Ones" in countries that receive assistance: one national plan, one national coordinating authority and one national monitoring and evaluation system. In this way, the community of nations is building a more coordinated and effective global effort to achieve our common objective of defeating HIV/AIDS.

The American people have embarked upon a historic mission to turn the tide of HIV/AIDS, and we are working in partnership with governments and communities across the globe to bring hope to the millions of people who are living in the shadow of HIV/AIDS. [End]

Released on December 1, 2004


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