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PEPFAR celebrates a decade of helping prevent AIDS deaths

July / August 2013 | Volume 12, Issue 4

Young woman smiling at camera holds young baby
Photo by James Pursey / Elizabeth Glaser
Pediatric AIDS Foundation

PEPFAR support has saved 1 million babies from
being infected inadvertently by their HIV-positive
mothers.

Having HIV/AIDS in a developing country has evolved from being a death sentence 10 years ago to a chronic, nonfatal condition, thanks in large part to the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The plan is helping countries add more people to antiretroviral therapy regimens each year than the number becoming newly infected - a milestone reached now in 13 countries - thereby moving toward the eventual goal of treating everyone infected and eliminating spread of the virus.

PEPFAR was established a decade ago to tackle the burgeoning epidemic of HIV/AIDS around the world. It devoted an unprecedented amount of funds for a single disease and today directly supports more than 5.1 million people on antiretroviral drugs and funds HIV testing and counseling for many millions more - 46.5 million in 2012.

PEPFAR's accomplishments represent the best of the human spirit and the best of American leadership, noted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. "Because when we all looked lost, when this disease appeared to be unstoppable, history will show that humanity and individual humans rose to the challenge," he said. "Action was taken. Innovations were discovered. Hope was kindled, and generations were saved."

Kerry marked the anniversary in by announcing PEPFAR's HIV prevention strategies have saved 1 million babies from contracting HIV from their mothers. Giving antiretroviral drug treatment to HIV-positive pregnant women greatly reduces the risk they will pass on the virus to their babies, maintains the mother's health over her lifetime and greatly lowers the risk she might spread the virus to uninfected sexual partners.

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