White House Hails Progress in HIV/AIDS Fight, Marks World AIDS Day 2013

By Chip Lyons | December 3, 2013

On Monday, President Obama made key announcements at an event commemorating World AIDS Day 2013.

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Yesterday, I was honored to attend an event at the White House commemorating World AIDS Day , which included remarks by President Obama and numerous high ranking officials and dignitaries, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, philanthropist Bill Gates and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Tony Fauci. The substantial event program showcased the Administration’s multi-faceted approach to ending AIDS and their commitment to moving an agenda forward.

President Obama made three key announcements, all of which built upon this year’s World AIDS Day theme of “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.”
First, the President announced that he will re-direct $100 million at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research efforts to discover a new generation of HIV therapies. This research will build upon NIH’s long legacy of advancing the fight against HIV, pushing the science towards a hopeful cure.  It is an exciting time for HIV research, with game changing studies such as the “Mississippi Baby” energizing the research community and reaffirming the value of investing in this area.

President Obama went on to declare that the U.S. has exceeded its goal of globally supporting 6 million people on antiretroviral treatment for HIV by the end of 2013, and is today supporting 6.7 million people with life-saving treatment.  And in a signal that the U.S. government will aspire to greater levels of success,  next year senior administration officials will coordinate with the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNAIDS and other global HIV/AIDS leaders to set ambitious, new global goals for treatment and prevention of HIV . It is my hope that such targets will be accompanied by a clear plan or roadmap on how it will be achieved.

Finally, President Obama announced that the U.S. is committing $5 billion to the Global Fund over the next three years—as long as the fund can raise two dollars for every dollar from the U.S. This pledge is critical as the Global Fund will use it as leverage to encourage other donors to make pledges today as part of its replenishment meeting here in Washington DC.  President Obama urged other donors “not to leave our money on the table.”

I am greatly encouraged by the President’s signaled support of HIV cure-related research, and of strong bi-lateral and multi-lateral support, as PEPFAR, EGPAF and key partners move the world towards an AIDS-free generation. We applaud the Administration for its bold commitments this week and their continued leadership in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

Chip Lyons is President and CEO of The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.