News / Africa

Turning the Tide against AIDS

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, M.D. (Brookings)U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, M.D. (Brookings)
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, M.D. (Brookings)
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, M.D. (Brookings)
Joe DeCapua
Next month, the United States will host the world’s largest AIDS conference for the first time in more than 20 years. More than 20,000 people are expected to gather in Washington, D.C. for AIDS 2012. The top U.S. official on HIV/AIDS says much progress has made against the disease over the past three decades.

De Capua report on Ambassador Eric Goosby
De Capua report on Ambassador Eric Goosbyi
|| 0:00:00

Both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have said that an AIDS-free generation is within reach. U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby is leading the effort to reach that goal.

“These words from the president and the secretary were based on a series of scientific discoveries primarily funded by the United States which have become game changers over the course of the past year. And because of the science the world will come together at AIDS 2012 to say that we’re turning the tide. That’s the theme of the conference. A tide that once overwhelmed the world is now a tide that is uniting the world. Hope is truly taking the place of despair,” he said.

Recent advances include promising vaccine, microbicide and treatment research.

In the early 1980s, in San Francisco, Goosby says he experienced the grief and loss brought by HIV/AIDS. With no treatment available, hundreds of his patients died from a then still mysterious disease. That changed in the mid-90s when the first antiretroviral drugs became available and saved lives.

Then came Africa

Goosby then turned his attention to sub-Saharan Africa. It was very different situation there.

“AIDS was wiping out a generation and reversing health gains in Africa. Hospitals were completely overwhelmed by the massive volume of dying patients – people. These were routinely multiple people in a bed, people on the floor. They weren’t getting the antiretroviral that was available here in the United States and Europe, so HIV infection was truly a death sentence,” he said.

Goosby said that AIDS “threatened the very foundations of African society.”

“It wiped out people in the prime of their lives when they should have been caring for their families. It created millions of orphans unable to attend school without the support provided by their parents,” he said.

What’s more, the disease brought economic growth to a halt in many countries. He says they were then trapped in a cycle of poverty.

“That in turn created societal instability leading the U.N. Security Council to identify AIDS as a security issue in 2001,” he said.

Today, however, HIV/AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to greater access to life saving drugs.

Goosby said, “A decade ago, almost no one in Africa was receiving treatment. Now 6.6 million – men, women and children – are on antiretroviral therapy in developing countries with the vast majority of them being in sub-Saharan Africa.”

That’s due in large part to PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The program began under President George W. Bush and continues under President Obama. Dr. Goosby is the man in charge of PEPFAR.

“It’s almost impossible to overstate America’s contribution. Through PEPFAR, as of last year, the United States supports nearly 4 million people on treatment. That’s up from 1.7 million in 2008, showing continued rapid expansion even during these tight budget times,” he said.

Last year, PEPFAR helped provide drugs to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV to 660,000 women. What’s more, it supported testing and counseling for 40 million people in 2011.

PEPFAR, along with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has funded numerous programs in the developing world. In doing so, many national healthcare systems have been strengthened.

Goosby says the know-how exists to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

“We know what must be done to end this epidemic and I have great hope that we can do it and get it done. Hope that we see in the science that guides our efforts – hope that we see as the world unites to turn the tide against this devastating disease. Hope that has taken the place of despair. Hope that keeps everyone in this room pushing forward, getting up and doing it again,” he said.

Ambassador Goosby made his remarks at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C.

The last time the U.S. hosted the International AIDS Conference was in 1990 in San Francisco. A major reason for that was the travel ban the U.S. imposed on those infected with HIV. President Bush began action to lift the ban and President Obama took the final steps when he took office.

The 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) will be held from July 22 to the 27.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs