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AIDS-Free Generation Within Reach 10 Years After Inception Of PEPFAR

Noting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement on Tuesday “that a cumulative total of one million babies will have been born HIV-free … due to direct PEPFAR support” over the last decade, Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and head of the State Department’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog, “This achievement would have been unimaginable 10 years ago when the U.S. Congress passed the legislation that created PEPFAR, yet today, we can celebrate this momentous milestone.” He states, “We have gained real momentum now — driven by political commitment and leadership, and enhanced by science — now we must continue to join forces in pushing toward the finish line.” He discusses advancements in antiretroviral treatment (ART), describing a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) intervention for pregnant women called Option B+, which “offers all pregnant women — regardless of their CD4 count or clinical staging — lifelong ART.”

“Success in implementing Option B+ across countries with high HIV burdens will help us meet the targets set by President Obama on World AIDS Day in 2011 for the United States, through PEPFAR, to support six million people on ART and provide antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV for 1.5 million pregnant women living with HIV by the end of 2013,” Goosby continues. “With PEPFAR directly supporting ART for more than 5.1 million people worldwide, as of the end of September 2012, we are on track to meet that goal,” he writes, concluding, “Our unwavering commitment and continued focus on making smart investments in strong evidenced-based interventions will help future generations by protecting infants from HIV infection while bringing sustainable, lifesaving treatment to mothers. It has been 10 years since the inception of PEPFAR, and we have more hope than ever that an AIDS-free generation is within our reach” (6/18).