Uniting for Action on HIV/AIDS

Updated: 2011-12-01 08:17

(China Daily)

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Every year on Dec 1, we commemorate World AIDS Day. It is a day to reflect on lives lost, and lives forever changed, as a result of Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Dec 1 is also an opportunity to pay tribute to more than 34 million people living with HIV worldwide. Today in China, we celebrate those lives saved and improved and we recommit to the fight against AIDS.

On this World AIDS Day, we emphasize science as the way forward. Recent scientific breakthroughs have altered our outlook on the future of AIDS. Anti-retroviral treatments have now been shown to reduce the likelihood of transmission of the AIDS-causing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) by a remarkable 96 percent. For the first time, we have a potential path to eliminate this disease from the globe. By using this new knowledge, we can ensure more effective programs are implemented to provide HIV prevention, treatment, and care to millions of people worldwide, including the people of China.

Significant strides have been made in China and throughout the world. The government of China now provides free care and treatment to all those infected with HIV. As the national HIV program in China continues to improve and expand, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have built capacity, strengthened health systems, and supported country leadership through technical assistance and training.

The Rural HIV Clinical Training Centers the CDC established in Anhui and Guangxi are good examples of this. By implementing the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), CDC and USAID have introduced innovative, science-based programs. Among PEPFAR's key contributions are increasing follow-up and referral rates in 15 provinces, improvements in laboratory capacity at the National AIDS Reference Laboratory and in the provinces, and developing an award-winning comprehensive prevention package of services in the high-prevalence province of Yunnan.

Working with China, we are embracing smart investments to save more lives. Treatment both to save the lives of those infected, and to prevent infection of others is a key evidence-based intervention, along with prevention of mother-to-child transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, HIV testing and others. In all we do, we are focusing on using our resources as effectively and efficiently as possible to maximize the human impact of our investments. President Barack Obama's Global Health Initiative is using health systems built through PEPFAR to address public health challenges in a more integrated and comprehensive way.

Despite challenging economic times, the United States remains committed to a leadership role in the global AIDS response. Meeting the challenge of this disease will require commitment from all parties including the governments of affected countries, donor governments, civil society, faith-based organizations, and the private sector.

Today, we recognize how far we have come in turning the tide against HIV, while acknowledging the lengths we still must travel. On this World AIDS Day, we stand together with China. With science as the road map, let us renew our efforts to reach the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

Gary F. Locke, US ambassador to China, via e-mail

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(China Daily 12/01/2011 page9)