Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has saved more than 25 million lives since its launch in 2003.
Blinken, speaking at the Business Council for International Understanding’s World AIDS Day event at the Hay-Adams Hotel in DC, said the more than $100 billion that the US has given to new laboratories and the hiring of 340,000 health care workers .
“Entire public health systems have been formed, with more than a dozen countries meeting their HIV treatment targets or achieving complete control of the virus,” Blinken said.
Then-President George W. Bush in 2003 signed the legislation that created PEPFAR. California Democrat Barbara Lee, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and senior White House medical adviser who is retiring at the end of this month, are among those who played a key role in the creation of PEPFAR.
“PEPFAR has benefited from bipartisan support, as we’ve heard, in four presidencies, in ten Congresses,” Blinken said. “It resulted in an investment of more than $100 billion for the global response to HIV/AIDS. This is the largest commitment by a country to address a single disease.”
Lee and Fauci were among those who attended the event along with US Global AIDS Coordinator John Nkengasong; the Assistant Secretary for Health, Rachel Levine; Dr. Deborah Birx, former White House director of coronavirus response, and Executive Director of the HIV and Hepatitis Policy Institute, Carl Schmid.
Blinken in his speech noted that “the systems implemented by PEPFAR have become an integral part of the health security architecture of countries around the world.”
Blinken also said that PEPFAR has strengthened responses to COVID-19, Ebola and bird flu.
“We continue to build on PEPFAR’s many successes to create a stronger global health security architecture to prevent, detect and respond to future health emergencies. Dr. Fauci, you once said that PEPFAR ‘shows what the goodwill of a nation can do,’ and he was right,” Blinken said. “PEPFAR also shows us what American diplomacy can do: bring governments together, bring together the public and private sectors, communities to meet the challenges that none of us can effectively meet alone and that creates and has created an environment healthier, safer and ultimately safer world.”
PEPFAR Five-Year Strategy to Target LGBTQ People
Blinken acknowledged that “very serious work is still required to end the global HIV health epidemic by 2030,” noting that HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect LGBTQ and intersex people and other marginalized groups.
“Too many countries still have fragile and under-resourced public health systems, making it difficult to offer services beyond HIV/AIDS treatments, and undermining our ability to respond to emerging threats,” he said.
Blinken noted that the United States on Thursday announced a new PEPFAR strategy that will help “fill those gaps” over the next five years. Includes the following:
• Targeted programming to help reduce inequities among LGBTQ and intersex people, women and girls, and other marginalized groups.
• Partnerships with local organizations to help reach “hard to reach” communities.
• Economic development and increased access to financial markets to allow countries to manufacture their own antiretroviral medicines, tests and personal protective equipment to give them “the ability to face their own challenges so that they are not dependent on anyone else”.
“This latest PEPFAR strategy will continue to make breakthroughs like that possible so that millions more people can live healthy lives and live lives to their full potential,” Blinken said.