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Statement from Bono on World AIDS Day

“Millions of people owe their lives to America’s generosity and the leadership of Presidents Bush and Obama”

WASHINGTON — Bono, the lead singer of U2 and the cofounder of ONE and (RED), issued the following statement to mark World AIDS Day:

“Whatever your brand of politics — left, right, center or none at all — if you’re an American, you’re an AIDS activist. America has led the way in saving millions of lives around the world from this vicious little virus.  On this World AIDS Day — and every day — that is a reason for Americans to be proud and the world to be grateful.

“President Bush utterly transformed the global fight against AIDS when he launched PEPFAR, the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history. And if President Bush built the car and got it running, President Obama kept his foot on the accelerator, helping ensure that over 18 million people today are on ARVs largely supported by PEPFAR and the Global Fund. Millions of people owe their lives to America’s generosity and the leadership of Presidents Bush and Obama, and support from all sides in Congress. The President-elect will take the baton at a critical moment — we’re so close to an AIDS-free generation, but still far from where we need to be to get ahead of this disease.

“Government leadership has been essential to fight, but we also have to thank the businesses who have been dealing their own serious blows to this disease. This year marks (RED)’s 10th birthday and we are amazed by what our (RED) partners have done — delivering more than $360 million to fight AIDS so far. Just as important as the cash, has been the heat they are keeping on this crisis. Together these resources mean more birthdays for millions of men and women and more babies born HIV free.”

AIDS-related illnesses are now the leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 44 on the planet, and over 17,000 women of all ages are infected with HIV every week. In sub-Saharan Africa, young women are twice as likely as young men to be infected with HIV, and 850 young women contract it every day. AIDS deaths have declined by 45 percent since their peak in 2004, but 2.1 million people are still being infected each year.

The ONE Campaign this week released its annual report on the fight against AIDS, warning that funding for the global fight against AIDS was flat and gains in treatment and prevention had not grown for a fourth straight year. Imminent population growth among especially vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan Africa has left world leaders with a four-year window to get ahead of the disease before long-term control slips beyond their reach.