Since it was established in 2003, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has provided treatment to more than 5.1 million people and HIV counseling and testing to nearly 47 million people, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reports.
PEPFAR is the U.S. government's initiative to help save lives of people suffering from HIV/AIDS. It is the largest commitment by any country to combat a single disease. USAID is PEPFAR's lead implementing partner.
USAID's report came in advance of World AIDS Day on December 1. The theme for World AIDS Day 2013, the 25th annual observance of the day when people around the world show solidarity in the fight against HIV/AIDS, is "Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-free Generation."
In the fact sheet, USAID notes some of the progress that it and other PEPFAR partners have made over the last 10 years.
• An important part of HIV prevention is preventing mother-to-child transmission of the virus in the womb or through breast-feeding. The risk of HIV transmission with no drug interventions is as high as 45 percent, but using antiretroviral medications in pregnancy can decrease the rate of HIV transmission to less than 2 percent. PEPFAR's work supports countries' expansion of access to treatment and protection of pregnant women and infants.
Antiretroviral therapy is a crucial tool for HIV treatment and prevention. By the end of 2013, PEPFAR says it will directly support more than 6 million people on antiretroviral treatment — 2 million more than its previous goal.
• HIV testing and counseling (HTC) is essential for reducing HIV-related transmission by linking citizens to antiretroviral therapy and by supporting programs aimed at preventing HIV transmission. USAID ensures that HIV testing and counseling are done in both clinical and community settings by health professionals, community health workers and trained volunteers.
Clinical settings include antenatal clinics, tuberculosis clinics, inpatient and outpatient departments of hospitals, sexually transmitted infection and reproductive health clinics and provider-initiated drug treatment programs. Mobile, home-based and stand-alone voluntary counseling and testing settings are client-initiated. HTC can enhance awareness about HIV/AIDS within communities because it allows people to talk with each other and ask questions.
• Gender-based violence is a globally prevalent problem that includes physical, sexual and psychological abuse; threats; coercion; arbitrary deprivation of liberty; and economic deprivation. PEPFAR programs use gender strategies to improve HIV services and reduce vulnerability to HIV infection.
• Children affected by and living with HIV/AIDS must remain central to the global response. As the largest funder of programs to help children affected by HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR celebrates the courage and compassion of the caregivers, grandmothers, parents and others who have stepped forward to care for children affected by the epidemic. Since 2003, PEPFAR has provided more than $2 billion in funding and technical support to enable children to stay in school, strengthen households and ensure that families continue their roles as primary caregivers.
World leaders gathered in Washington December 2–3 to demonstrate unity and make commitments to fight HIV/AIDS through 2017.