One of the greatest causes of suffering in Africa is the spread of HIV/AIDS, which has left graves and orphans across the continent.
The people of Africa are fighting HIV/AIDS with courage and determination and you are not fighting alone. Stopping the AIDS pandemic is a top priority of the United States. America helped found the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and we provide about a third of its funding. Two years ago I announced the emergency plan for AIDS relief, the largest health initiative in history to combat a single disease.
Across Africa we are working with local health officials to expand AIDS testing facilities to try to support doctors, nurses, and counselors, to upgrade clinics and hospitals, to care for children orphaned by AIDS, and to support pastors, priests and others who are teaching young people the values of respect, responsibility and prevention.
America’s emergency plan is achieving results. In 2002, before this plan was announced, less than 50,000 people in all of sub-Saharan Africa were receiving treatment. As of March of this year, the emergency plan had made treatment possible for more than 230,000 men, women and children in sub-Saharan Africa, far exceeding the goals we set in January 2004. We are well on track to make our goal of supporting life-saving treatment for 2 million African adults and children by the end of 2008.
(In) some parts of Africa we are seeing hopeful signs that AIDS can be defeated. Under the leadership of President Museveni, Uganda has reduced the percentage of people infected by HIV by more than 2/3 in less than 15 years. In Botswana, President Mogae has led his country to one of the most successful treatment programs in Africa. More than 40,000 people are receiving life-extending medicines in that country.
Across the continent Africans are learning that HIV need not be a death sentence. Access to new drugs and new treatments is dramatically extending and improving lives.
In the years ahead, America will continue our efforts to bring hope and optimism to the fight against AIDS. Respect for the value and dignity of every human life is at the heart of our country’s founding. And every nation working to defeat HIV/AIDS can know they have a friend in the United States of America.
Thank you very much.