In a modern, globalized world, the country in which you live or the income you earn should not determine whether or not your child will become HIV positive. And yet in my country, France, only three babies were infected last year with HIV during their mothers' pregnancy, labor, delivery, or when breastfeeding, while globally, 390,000 babies were born HIV-positive, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. Without medical intervention, nearly half of these babies will die before their second birthday.
In 2012, we can and must do better. We can prevent millions of new infections, and get ahead of the AIDS epidemic because it costs less than $1 per day to give a mother medicine to prevent this type of transmission. That is why the global health community has set its sights on the virtual elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015. Reaching this goal is possible if we increase funding so that every woman living with HIV has access to the life-saving drugs she needs. Since 2000, the Global Fund has assisted over one million pregnant women in this way. This is a great achievement but sadly, we are still reaching only half of those who need our help. To achieve the goal of an "AIDS free generation" resources are the key. Simply stated: without resources, there are no results.
It was the administration of George W. Bush that established the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and provided funds for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Both have enjoyed widespread bi-partisan support in Congress. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has continued US leadership in the fight and recently announced the Obama Administration's support for an AIDS free generation by 2015.
It is my hope that in these times of austerity, Congress will continue turning the tide against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Now is not the time to let economic challenges erode the gains made at the expense of the most vulnerable, those least to blame for the financial crises and those most in need. We know the impact and results that our resources can have and also that the sums required to make an AIDS free generation possible will neither save nor break the national budget of any developed nation. To support our leaders in this endeavor, it is essential that we stand together to protect and build upon the gains we have made in global health. Governments throughout the world, consumers of (RED) products and corporations like Chevron have given unprecedented sums to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to achieve the success that we have seen to date. For example, since May 2006, the Ghana AIDS program has received more than $50 million of the $180 million raised by (RED). This has contributed, amongst other things, to nearly 500,000 pregnant women receiving testing and counseling for HIV (the equivalent of 5 Super Bowl audiences), and over 13,000 HIV-positive pregnant women receiving medication to stop transmission of HIV to their child.
While donor budgets are constrained, people's generosity is not. When I see people buying (RED) products -- a deliberate and well informed consumer choice -- I see that generosity. It helps me to sustain my belief and hope that we can end the AIDS epidemic.
(RED) is a way that any individual consumer can take part in the global fight against AIDS. Every dollar raised is a dollar that purchases medicines or helps provide much needed medical services. Please support the fight against the AIDS pandemic and help to end mother to child transmission of HIV by choosing to buy (RED) products; joining organizations such as ONE to keep your political leaders' focus on the goal of an AIDS free generation; donating directly to the Global Fund via www.joinred.com; or just spreading the word that everyone has a role to play in fighting AIDS.
By founding (RED), Bono has used his tremendous influence to enable millions of consumers to take part in the fight against AIDS. His support for the Global Fund has been unwavering and inspirational. This World AIDS Day, I will be in Washington D.C. with Bono to celebrate our achievements, but, more importantly, to encourage both governments and businesses to keep up the fight against AIDS. Join us!
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