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ONE marks 15th anniversary of PEPFAR

WASHINGTON — On the eve of the 15th anniversary of President George W. Bush signing the law that created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), The ONE Campaign released the following statement.

Tom Hart, North America executive director at The ONE Campaign:

“When President George W. Bush launched PEPFAR 15 years ago this week, 5,000 people were dying from AIDS every day and another 7,000 people were being infected with HIV. America’s transformative leadership in the global response to the AIDS epidemic has been without parallel in human history, measured not only in dollars but in lives saved.

“In the countries that PEPFAR invests, 375,000 people were receiving treatment in 2004, the first year of the program. Today, PEPFAR provides life-saving HIV/AIDS treatment to 14 million people. That’s 14 million men, women and children who are alive today thanks to the ingenuity, commitment, and generosity of this bipartisan American program. Over 2.2 million babies who otherwise would have been infected have been born HIV-free. For the first time ever, more than half of the people living with HIV globally are receiving treatment, while AIDS-related deaths have been cut by half since their peak in 2005.

“Our historic progress against the AIDS epidemic is profound, but fragile. We find ourselves grappling with an Administration that has proposed a 17 percent cut to HIV/AIDS programs and a strategy that would stop adding new people to treatment in many of the hardest-hit countries. All told, the Administration’s harmful budget proposal and strategy would lead to 4 million deaths and 26 million new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 15 years, effectively triggering a resurgence of the disease. We must not retreat.

“Bipartisan leadership in the global AIDS response is unquestionably one of the U.S.’s most important global legacies in the past two decades. Both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, have put saving lives above politics. On the eve of the 15th anniversary of PEPFAR, Congress must recommit itself to the bipartisan leadership that is the hallmark of PEPFAR and fully fund the program so that it can aggressively add more people to treatment wherever it is needed. The ONE Campaign and its 3 million members in the United States will continue to fight for PEPFAR because it’s saving millions of lives and it’s working.”