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President Bush Reaffirms Commitment to Combating AIDS in Africa

December 1, 2011 3 minute Read by Eric G. Bing

Just a decade ago, with vision and compassion, President George W. Bush began the most massive investment in a single disease by a single nation ever. Through the Global Fund and PEPFAR, the United States has enabled 4.7 million people to take life-sustaining drugs against HIV. Today in Tanzania, President and Mrs. Bush begin their tour of Africa to see the impact of that investment and to recommit to do more through the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative; a fitting way to spend Worlds AIDS Day. Here in Tanzania, almost one million people have received HIV-related care and support through PEPFAR and over 255,000 are receiving life saving anti-retroviral drugs. In Tanzania, PEPFAR has helped nearly 60,000 pregnant women reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to their babies. We also met a 29-year old woman whose life story reinforced how much work we have left to do. This soft-spoken mother of two with a quiet inner strength began taking anti-retroviral medications immediately upon learning that she was HIV positive. She was determined to beat the disease. She took her medications regularly and did exceedingly well in controlling her HIV. Despite her success in controlling HIV, she was recently diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer – a cancer that is 4 to 5 times more common among women with HIV than others. It is a disease for which there is little treatment in Africa, but one that can be easily and inexpensively prevented. The Bush Institute is partnering with PEPFAR, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, UNAIDS and others for Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an initiative that builds upon our successes in HIV, leveraging the PEPFAR platform to combat cervical cancer. The initiative will reduce cervical cancer by 25% among women who are screened in Africa. As President Bush has said, “it is not right to save a woman from HIV, only to let her die from cervical cancer.” Our next stop is Zambia, an African country with a cervical cancer rate that is so high, it rivals only one other – Tanzania.

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