President's Message: December 2011
An AIDS-Free Generation. Even a few years ago, such a goal seemed nearly impossible. But today, thanks to greater access to medicines that help prevent HIV transmission from mothers to their babies, and the ability of those who are already infected to lead long, healthy lives with reduced risk of transmitting the virus to others, the momentum toward ending pediatric AIDS is greater than ever.
And it’s something that’s possible. That promise was clear during the World AIDS event in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the ONE Campaign and (RED). Attendees included U.S. President Barack Obama (who committed $50 million toward the fight against pediatric AIDS with the Foundation’s own logo visible behind him), as well as former U.S. President George W. Bush, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania via satellite. If we are to end pediatric AIDS, such political will is essential.
Foundation Ambassador Florence Ngobeni-Allen also participated in a panel discussion
at the event with Bono, Alicia Keys, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, and others. Florence spoke movingly about her experiences as an HIV-positive mother who lost her first child, Nomthunzi, to AIDS. In a way reminiscent of our founder, Elizabeth Glaser, Florence turned her own personal tragedy into hope
, becoming a counselor and advocate for those living with HIV. Today, Florence is the proud mother of two boys who are free from the virus. As Florence herself said, she never gave up—she chose to fight.
That fight—hers, Elizabeth’s, and that of mothers around the world—is also the focus of a new website
we launched on World AIDS Day. This important new tool in our fight against pediatric AIDS spotlights the Foundation’s innovative approaches, and provides opportunities for supporters to learn more, donate, and get involved in the Foundation’s work. It also features our new video, “30 to Zero: Countdown to an AIDS-Free Generation,”
which chronicles the 30 years of the pandemic through the lens of children, and galvanizes momentum toward ending pediatric AIDS.
Despite our advances, half of those women in need of medicines to help prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child do not receive them. And the problems of stigma and discrimination against those with HIV—which are, unfortunately, commonplace in sub-Saharan Africa--remain in the United States as well. As I wrote in a Huffington Post blog earlier this month
, a 13-year-old boy in Pennsylvania was denied admission to a private school because he was HIV-infected. This unacceptable act evokes memories of the darkest days of the pandemic in the United States. And as long as incidents like this one occur anywhere, it’s clear that our work is not yet over.
The world is collectively marshaling its efforts and looking toward a time where no baby will be born with HIV. But we can’t lose our momentum. As the New York Times wrote after Secretary Clinton’s speech, this is no time to lose ground against a scourge that, while no longer always fatal, is still infecting people faster than they can be tested and treated.
As I reflect on the significant progress we have made in 2011, I want to thank you for your support in the Foundation’s work. To learn more about other opportunities to get more involved, please visit A Mother’s Fight