April 7, 2017
Written by Amb. Deborah L. Birx, M.D.
This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
On World Health Day (April 7), we recommit ourselves to making the world a healthier and more secure place.
Fifteen years ago, an HIV diagnosis was often a death sentence, and controlling the AIDS pandemic was unimaginable. In the hardest-hit regions of sub-Saharan Africa, babies and children were facing doubling and tripling mortality rates, and life expectancy was cut by 20 years.
In 2003, fewer than 50,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa had access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment, and nearly half a million children were being newly infected with HIV annually. The virus was devastating families, communities, and countries as moms, dads, teachers, nurses, and doctors all succumbed to the disease. Hard-won gains in global health and development were being lost.
Today, we can tell a far different story. A story of millions of men, women, and children who are alive and healthy thanks to the tremendous progress achieved through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, host countries, and many other partners. A story of countries better equipped to prevent, detect, and respond to their HIV/AIDS epidemics as well as new and existing health threats. Where once there was despair and death, we now see hope and life.