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“It’s been a huge success”: ONE Statement on PEPFAR in the State of the Union

WASHINGTON – The ONE Campaign released the following statement in response to President Biden’s State of the Union address, during which he lauded the bipartisan effort through PEPFAR to make historic progress in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

ONE Campaign co-founder Bono attended the speech as a guest of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in recognition of his work – alongside activists from Africa, scientists, and faith leaders – to build public and bipartisan political support for PEPFAR. Since it was announced in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, the program has helped save 25 million lives from HIV/AIDS. 

“We were thrilled to see the incredible, lasting legacy of PEPFAR celebrated tonight in President Biden’s State of the Union,” said Gayle Smith, CEO of the ONE Campaign. “In just two decades, PEPFAR turned the tide in the fight against HIV/AIDS and is responsible for saving at least 25 million lives. But our work is not yet finished – and we must commit ourselves once again to finishing the fight.” 

As Senior Director for Development and Democracy during the Obama Administration, Smith helped oversee the implementation of PEPFAR in Africa. In 2003, ONE President Tom Hart, along with Bono and Bobby Shriver, lobbied the Bush administration to establish a historic HIV/AIDS initiative at a time when 30 million people in Africa were infected with HIV but only 50,000 were receiving life-saving treatment that was widely accessible in wealthy countries. 

 “It’s hard to overstate what the challenges looked like in the early days of PEPFAR, which makes the past 20 years of steady and significant progress all the more extraordinary,” Hart said. “PEPFAR expanded the boundaries of global health in Africa and narrowed the political divide in Washington. This is what bipartisan leadership can do – the very kind of commitment we’ll need to finally end HIV/AIDS for good, and tackle other challenges. Thank you, President Biden and bipartisan leaders in Congress for reaffirming the legacy of American leadership against AIDS. We look forward to working with Congress to reauthorize PEPFAR later this year.”