2011 promises to be a year of great excitement at the Foundation, a year in which we’re poised to continue our progress toward eliminating pediatric AIDS.
I’ve just returned from a week in Harare, Zimbabwe, a country where it is possible that the worldwide momentum toward creating a generation free of HIV will take center stage. Last week, the Foundation officially launched its partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), which awarded us the first year of a five-year, $45 million grant to accelerate scale-up of more effective antiretroviral regimens to reduce HIV transmission from mother to child in Zimbabwe, and to ensure that HIV-positive mothers can access treatment for their own health. Put simply, we will work closely with the Government of Zimbabwe and key partners to reduce infant HIV infections and reach more women with the medicines they need to prevent transmission of the virus to their babies.
It’s important to note that the partnership with CIFF is an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration toward elimination of pediatric AIDS not only in Zimbabwe, but also in the other countries where we work. With this new partnership between CIFF and the Foundation, we hope the lessons learned in Zimbabwe will be used to implement similar programs in other countries with a high burden of HIV, thereby strengthening efforts to eliminate pediatric AIDS globally. We will constantly track our progress toward these goals; to that effect, a separate, additional award has been made by CIFF to independently monitor and evaluate the impact of the Zimbabwe program.
Moving Towards Elimination in Zimbabwe from EGPAF on Vimeo.
The fight against pediatric AIDS has a human face. I saw it In Zimbabwe last week, when I was privileged to meet Patience and Josphat, a mother and child who spoke movingly at the event. Patience has a magical smile. It is the smile of a woman who knows what I think of as the "three joys:" the joy of learning you will have a child when you choose to; the joy of bringing your baby into the world; and the joy of knowing, as an HIV-positive mother, that your baby is HIV-negative because you’ve received the medicines you need to prevent transmission of the virus.
The CIFF partnership is another step toward achieving what was once thought to be impossible: the elimination of pediatric AIDS. When the Foundation began its international work more than a decade ago, we faced similar circumstances. We had the science—and the medicines—to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child, and we worked tenaciously to reach the women who needed these services most. With the support of partners, and notably through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, we were able to reach more children, mothers, and families around the world. Today, as a result of this outreach, the Foundation works in 17 countries around the world, supports more than 5,100 sites, and has provided nearly 11 million women with services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. We’ve also enrolled more than 1.1 million people, including more than 90,000 children, into HIV care and support programs—enabling those already infected with the virus to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.
This is no small feat, but we won’t rest until our work is complete. Country by country, province by province, village by village, working hand in hand with our talented staff and partners around the world, we must combine great program efficiency with innovation and advocacy. Only then can we capitalize on global momentum—and eliminate pediatric AIDS once and for all. Join us.