Thursday, December 1, 2011

...the United States is proud to partner with The Bahamas in the global fight against HIV/AIDS

Op-Ed by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires John Dinkelman - U.S. Embassy in Nassau - - Working Towards an AIDS-Free Generation

On World AIDS Day, we pay tribute to the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide as well as the millions of lives have been saved, as HIV treatment and prevention efforts continue to show results. The number of new HIV infections has fallen by more than 20 percent since 1997. New infections are continuing to decline in most parts of the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by the AIDS epidemic, HIV incidence has decreased in 22 countries. Never before in the history of AIDS have we reached a moment where we are able to stand up and say with conviction the end of AIDS is in sight.

Since the inception of The U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, the United States has led the response to the global epidemic. To date, PEPFAR is the largest commitment in history by any nation to combat a single disease. To commemorate World AIDS Day, PEPFAR is promoting the global theme "Leading with Science, Uniting for Action" with the goal of highlighting recent scientific advances that will help us move toward the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

Building on the success of PEPFAR and other global health programs, U.S. President Barack Obama has put forward an ambitious Global Health Initiative (GHI); a unified strategy to save lives and maximize investments to address the most challenging health issues. These gains have also translated into better health for millions of people around the world.

Through its partnerships with more than 30 countries, PEPFAR directly supported 11 million people with care and support, including nearly 3.8 million orphans and vulnerable children, in fiscal year 2010 alone. PEPFAR directly supported HIV counseling and testing for nearly 33 million people in fiscal year 2010, providing a critical entry point to prevention, treatment, and care.

Smart investments have also maximized the human impact of resources. Experience in the field has taught us how to use every dollar invested in battling HIV/AIDS more effectively and efficiently. This means we are getting value for our money - every dollar is going farther, allowing us to increase our impact and save more lives.

Within the PEPFAR Caribbean Program, the United States Government is actively partnering with Caribbean Governments in making smarter investments in these difficult economic times with an increased focus on the efficient use of health sector funding to save as many lives as possible. For example, working with the national laboratories in Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, the PEPFAR Caribbean Program has supported the strengthening of laboratory systems throughout the Caribbean, resulting in a significant increase in the quality of services being provided by national laboratories.

By working closely with laboratory staff in 12 Caribbean countries, including The Bahamas, PEPFAR has also facilitated the creation integrated laboratory systems in support of HIV surveillance, prevention, care and treatment programs. Ultimately, this work contributes to the larger vision of strengthening national HIV/AIDS programs and improving local capacity to address public health priorities.

As we move forward with PEPFAR, the United States is proud to partner with The Bahamas in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The road before us is clear. Evidence-based programs have played a key role in our success to date, and new scientific discoveries provide an opportunity to expand our impact. United in action, we can build on our successes, save even more lives and above all work towards the ultimate goal – an AIDS-free generation.

November 30, 2011