The acting U.S. Coordinator on AIDS says great strides have been made in the treatment and prevention of AIDS worldwide, but other countries still need to increase their role in the global effort to fight the disease. Dr. Mark Dybul made his comments Thursday as the United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS was taking place in New York.
The U.N. conference comes just days before the 25th anniversary of the first case of AIDS, which has killed some 25 million people worldwide since 1981. The U.N. says there are an estimated 65 million people worldwide infected with AIDS or HIV - the virus that causes AIDS.
In 2003, the Bush administration announced its five-year, $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or EPFAR. The plan includes not only prevention, but treatment and care programs in 120 countries, and concentrates on 15 countries where 50 percent of the HIV-AIDS cases are found.
In a briefing from New York, Dr. Dybul says the United States is giving as much as the rest of the world combined, and called on other governments to take on more of the burden. He says AIDS is a global disease and needs a global response. "We need a stepped up commitment and we hope coming out of this declaration we get increased commitment from the rest of the world in this global fight," he said.
The U.N.'s 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV-AIDS calls for a concerted effort by all nations to address the HIV-AIDS epidemic. This week's U.N. High Level meeting is expected to renew commitment to reversing the global AIDS crisis.
But Dr. Dybul says it is not just about money and declarations, but action. He says over the last five years, treatment of HIV-AIDS has become an integral part of tackling the disease, and there has been remarkable progress in prevention, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. "In this past year we have seen reports from Kenya and Zimbabwe and Botswana, and 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa of significant reduction in infection," he said.
Dr. Dybul says the United States will continue to be committed to its support of countries around the world, and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with people of the world in their fight against HIV-AIDS.