Celebrating One Million Babies Born HIV-free!
At an event to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that as of June 2013, one million babies have been born free of HIV around the world thanks to PEPFAR support. Here at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), we are celebrating this amazing milestone and the crucial role our organization played in its achievement. EGPAF has been a key implementer of PEPFAR’s program since 2003, and has contributed to more than 20 percent (213,000) of the one million averted pediatric infections.
EGPAF Ambassador Tatu Msangi was a featured speaker at today’s event. Tatu shared her personal story as a mother living with HIV and the positive impact prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services has had on her life.
“I am honored to stand before you as a living example of PEPFAR’s impact on the global effort to eliminate HIV/AIDS,” she said. “Thanks to PEPFAR and its implementing partners, such as the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, I was able to access the treatment I needed so I could stay healthy and my daughter, Faith, could be born HIV-negative. My daughter is all the proof you need that an HIV-free generation is possible.”
During his speech, Secretary Kerry acknowledged the important role PMTCT services play in the global effort to achieve an AIDS-free generation:
“[This is] an announcement that we could literally only have dreamed about ten years ago,” he said. “… And as you know, preventing mother-to-child transmission has been a central pillar of our fight against this disease, and just this month, we reached the truly landmark moment on the HIV/AIDS timeline. Imagine what this means – one million babies, like Tatu’s daughter Faith, can grow up happy and healthy, go to school, realize their dreams, break out of this cycle, maybe even have sons and daughters of their own, free from the burden and the fear of HIV.”
Secretary Kerry was joined by U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric P. Goosby, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo), U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), and Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services Dr. Richard Nehabi Kamwi to announce additional achievements, including 13 new countries that have reached the “tipping point” in the HIV epidemic—the point at which the annual increase in new patients on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) exceeds the annual number of new HIV infections. EGPAF supports six of these countries, including Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Ambassador Goosby concluded today’s event with a message of hope, while recognizing that we still have a long way to go in our efforts to achieve an AIDS-free generation. He said that programs such as PEPFAR will remain essential, asking “What would the world look like today without PEPFAR?”
To see photos and learn more about today’s event, visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Johanna Harvey is Senior Communications Officer at the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.