On Tuesday, June 24, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) held its quarter-century commemoration at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., within sight of the U.S. Capitol dome. We were gathered with partners and supporters to reflect upon progress that we have made toward our mission of ending AIDS in children.
One measurement of that progress is our recent achievement of having reached 20 million women with services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Myriad supporters can be credited with helping us reach those women -- and saving millions lives in the process. On this occasion we honored Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi with our Congressional Global Champion Award. Leader Pelosi has been a friend and partner of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation from its earliest days.
It is significant that we met with our friends and allies in Washington, D.C., the city where we held our very first event in June 1989, when the AIDS crisis was burning across the United States. From that moment, the U.S. government has played an unparalleled role in changing the course of the pandemic, thanks to strong bipartisan leadership, investment in science, and dramatic scale-up of prevention and treatment efforts.
Here in the capital of the United States, the Ryan White Care Act was passed in 1991, with the solid support of Leader Pelosi. It was a watershed moment in the fight against AIDS, providing hope to individuals and families in this country who lack the means to pay for HIV treatment. The Ryan White Care Program still supports thousands of people living with and affected by AIDS today.
The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), launched in 2003 with tremendous assistance from Leader Pelosi, represents another watershed moment. Rarely has the United States been more forward-thinking. The transformational PEPFAR program has long enjoyed strong bipartisan support and has provided our organization with the ability to expand to countries hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic--largely in sub-Saharan Africa. The continued and sustained success of PEPFAR illustrates the good that can be accomplished in Washington, D.C.
Today it is rare that a child in the United States is born with HIV. The early advocacy efforts of Elizabeth Glaser and the organization that today bears her name paved the way for this--but truly, much credit for that accomplishment must be given to leaders in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, working with the White House to ensure that women in the United States have access to services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
That progress has continued across the globe. New infections in children worldwide have been cut in half in the past few years--an extraordinary accomplishment. Last summer, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that more than 1 million children had been born HIV-free because of PEPFAR. Due in no small part to that program, we have been able to announce that our organization has reached 20 million women with services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
We are proud of these milestones and are deeply grateful for the support that we have received from individuals, corporate donors, and government partners around the world over the past 25 years. Everyone who has contributed in any way to our work shares credit for these achievements.
Charles Lyons is the president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.