Each year on December 1, we commemorate World AIDS Day – a time to reflect on the lives lost, and forever changed, as a result of AIDS. It is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the 34 million people living with HIV worldwide. Today, we celebrate those lives saved and recommit to the fight against AIDS.
The world has made tremendous progress to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS over the last 30 years through research and development, education, and outreach. With each passing day, we can now look ahead more confidently towards an AIDS-free generation.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has used the term ‘country ownership’ to encourage every country to take a greater responsibility to fight against HIV/AIDS. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) work closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia and international and Cambodian non-governmental organizations to: prevent HIV infections amongst people engaged in high risk behaviors; ensure that treatment reaches people who are infected with HIV; and support communities with people living with HIV.
Ending AIDS is a shared responsibility. In Cambodia, we must continue to work together to increase our efforts in the response. Everyone – government, private sector, donor organizations, civil society, and faith-based organizations – has a role to play.
On this World AIDS Day, there is good news to share. Cambodia cut the HIV prevalence rate in adults by more than half from 1998 to 2010 – a true success story. Today, 80 percent of those who need it are being treated for HIV and that number is increasing each year. That means that those who are HIV positive are not only kept alive, but the transmission of the virus to others is also declining. The United States through PEPFAR is proud to play a supporting role in these great achievements. This progress is wonderful but there is more to do.
As we look to the future, the United States remains committed to the global HIV/AIDS response. We will work closely with Cambodia and all its partners to save even more lives and achieve the Government’s strategy to eliminate new HIV infections by 2020. Advances in science and technology are helping us bring lifesaving knowledge and health care to more people throughout Cambodia. We will work harder to reach those who need our help and take advantage of new tools and knowledge to reach them.
On World AIDS Day, we honor all people living with HIV/AIDS and recognize Cambodia’s health workers, scientists, and community members who have committed their lives to fight against AIDS. Let’s join them in seizing this opportunity and renewing our efforts to reach the goal of an AIDS-free generation.
What does World AIDS Day mean to you? Please share your comments.
SMARTgirl program‘s peer counseling is an effective way to provide life-saving information to communities who are at high risking of becoming infected by HIV. The U.S. Government’s support for such programs has helped to cut Cambodia’s HIV prevalence rate in half. (Photo: Ian Taylor)