The theme for World AIDS Day this year is "Working Together for an AIDS-Free Generation." This year is especially important because the world is making huge progress against HIV, but we still don’t have all the tools we need to end the epidemic. This is a time for everyone to learn the facts about AIDS and put knowledge into action.
When you look at the facts, you see there’s a very clear, cause-effect relationship between the world’s level of investment in HIV treatment and prevention and the number of lives saved. Providing women, men and children with access to low-cost treatment literally means the difference between life and death. Access to treatment is reviving entire communities by helping people live healthy and productive lives.
But we still have much more to do. The rate of new infections is going down, but the number of people who get infected every year is still double the number who gain access to treatment. We need to stay focused on developing new prevention methods, like long-lasting pills and injectables, that can provide people with sustained protection over time.
And we have to stay focused on finding an HIV vaccine. A lot of new discoveries have given us hope that we can produce a safe and effective vaccine to protect future generations.
The organization leading the international anti-AIDS effort is The Global Fund, which currently provides HIV treatment to nearly 4 million people in Africa and is also a key partner in efforts to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The Global Fund has a new executive director, Mark Dybul, the former U.S. global AIDS coordinator. And it recently adopted a new approach to funding grants by investing additional money in health programs that are poised to achieve the strongest impact.
I’m convinced that the right people and organizations are assembled to push toward beating this epidemic. What’s not yet in place are the necessary financial resources. The Global Fund relies on voluntary contributions. Many governments and private organizations, including our foundation, have invested significant amounts, but the donations received so far fall short of what is needed to expand affordable treatment to those who need it.
Take a few minutes to learn more about World AIDS day from these sites: UNAIDS for global information and AIDS.gov for information about the state of HIV in the United States. Then consider helping with a contribution to the Global Fund.