President's Message: July 2010
As I mark six months as President and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, I can’t help but pause and take stock. I’ve traveled to 6 of the 17 countries in which we work; participated in meetings with colleagues in the global health community, the U.S. government, and national ministries of health; and celebrated 20 years of outstanding work by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
For me, what has become incredibly clear over these past few months is that the elimination of pediatric AIDS is possible.
Charles holds up a sign that says "Stop SIDA"
(Stop AIDS) during a recent visit to Foundation
programs in Rwanda. (Photo: James Pursey)
In June, the Foundation marked the end of our pioneering “Call to Action” project
, a global initiative that began in 1999 in sub-Saharan Africa to demonstrate we could prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in resource-poor settings – just as we had done in the United States. A decade ago, the near-elimination of new pediatric AIDS cases in this country provided the programmatic evidence we needed – evidence that showed donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), that their critical support could help us expand our work to millions of women and infants who needed it most. The CTA program ultimately supported more than 2,600 sites in 14 countries, and provided comprehensive and high-quality services to close to 4 million pregnant women. Antiretroviral drugs for prevention-of-mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) were administered to more than 332,000 HIV-positive pregnant women to help their infants be born HIV-free.
Nearly a decade later, we can say that the Call to Action was a success – and the Foundation can be immensely proud of its work. The emergency nature of the CTA was a reaction to the crisis of pediatric AIDS in the developing world, and it served as a model for global efforts to prevent new infections and treat those living with the virus. And while this historic project has concluded, our work in these and other countries will continue.
In July, the Foundation participated in the International AIDS Society Conference in Vienna, Austria
. This conference is the premier gathering for those in the field of HIV, to include policy makers, people living with the disease, and others committed to ending the pandemic. I hope you followed our updates from Vienna through our website, Facebook page, and Twitter – making the case for elimination, and sharing the highlights from our meetings.
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There is a word in Swahili, “tunaweza,” which means “together, we can.” Because of your invaluable support, together, we can eliminate pediatric AIDS. As always, I thank you for your continued support of our work around the globe.
Charles Lyons is the president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.