Hope. Mercy. Compassion. 25 million lives saved — and counting
As citizens of a great country, we recognize our responsibility to take hold of opportunities like PEPFAR that allow us to do so much for so many. The world is a safer and better place when America confronts suffering and hopelessness.
Twenty years ago, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, was signed into law and began the largest commitment in history – by any country – to fight a single disease.
Many Americans don’t remember the dire situation faced on the continent of Africa two decades ago. HIV/AIDS was a humanitarian crisis. In some countries, 1 in 4 adults carried the disease, and it was projected that 100 million people would be infected by 2010.
Children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Malawi sit in the Tithanizane Orphan Care Center in 2001. The center acted as a pre-school for 209 orphans that lived within a 1/2 kilometer radius of the town. (Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images)
A mother living with AIDS in Uganda reads a memory book she created for her children in 2000. (Louise Gubb/CORBIS SABA/Corbis via Getty Images)
On their first trip to Africa, President and Mrs. Bush visited an HIV/AIDS clinic called TASO. In the simple one-story building, they expected to find hopelessness. Instead, a sign over the door said, “Living Positively with HIV/AIDS.” Children, many who had been orphaned by the disease, sang to them – including a beautiful rendition of America the Beautiful. They met a patient named Mohamad, who, in the advanced stages of HIV/AIDS, had been confined to a bed for nearly a year. But Mohamad had faith and hope. He told them his dream was to come to America.
Mohamad knew that Americans are uniquely good at working together to solve big problems. As citizens of a great country, we recognize our responsibility to take hold of opportunities like PEPFAR that allow us to do so much for so many.
PEPFAR has saved more than 25 million lives. Nearly 6 million babies have been born HIV-free. The healthcare systems that exist today because of PEPFAR have made it possible for countries to respond to Ebola, Mpox, and COVID-19. It’s built on accountability, and it delivers results.
Today, we thank the American taxpayers for an incredible act of mercy and compassion. Thank you for recognizing that every life has dignity and value and that America is at its best when we remember that to whom much is given, much is required. The world is a safer and better place when America confronts suffering and hopelessness. It strengthens our security, and it brings together governments, corporations, NGOs, and faith-based organizations to work toward a common cause – saving lives.
Like the life of Mohamad. His access to treatment through PEPFAR, made it possible for him to come to the United States. He brought his big, bright smile to the White House, and he went to Capitol Hill, where he thanked Congress, and urged them to continue to authorize PEPFAR. The program is up for authorization this year, too, and Congress must fund it. PEPFAR works.