21 February 2013

Africa: The Beginning of the End of Aids


Foundation President and CEO Chip Lyons wrote about the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and how close we are to achieving the end of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the creation of an AIDS-free generation.

I just attended our first annual "Global Champions for a Mother's Fight" gala, an opportunity to honor some of our heroes in the battle against pediatric HIV/AIDS and discuss global change, innovation, and advocacy. We were privileged to recognize Johnson & Johnson, Amy Towers, and Cookie Johnson for their commitment to creating an AIDS-free generation.

As I looked out at the crowd, I was reminded of just how many people are deeply invested in the end of AIDS. I listened to Florence Ngobeni-Allen speak about the loss of her daughter, and how her own tragedy inspired her to share her story and help other women keep themselves and their babies alive. I saw people take time to gather and reflect on the challenges we face and the opportunities we can look forward to as we work for the beginning of the end of AIDS.

The battle against HIV/AIDS has been fought for over three decades, by people from every community and all walks of life. Recently, the "conversation" about the AIDS epidemic has changed dramatically. We're now beginning to talk about how to end it. Ending AIDS starts with stopping the transmission of pediatric AIDS. We know this because we have done so, here in the United States and in much of Europe, and Asia.

But we're not there yet. Nine hundred babies around the world are born HIV-positive every day because their mothers lack the medicines and care they need to keep themselves and their children healthy. We want to get that 900 to zero. We have the expertise and the medicines to reach that goal; we know what to do and where to do it.

Earlier this month, I was in Lesotho, a small country that can provide some big lessons in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Three years ago, with the support of the U.S. government, Lesotho embarked on an ambitious program to prevent every case of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Today, nine out of ten HIV-positive women in Lesotho get the health care they need to ensure that they give birth to healthy, HIV-negative babies. The progress Lesotho has made in less than three years reinforces our message: we know what to do, and where to do it, and we can do it; country by country, mother by mother, baby by baby, until no child is born with HIV.

The world is closer than it has ever been to ending pediatric AIDS. Please join us as we move toward an AIDS-free generation.

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