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· Before President George W. Bush enacted PEPFAR, sub-Saharan Africa was struggling in a war against AIDS. Now, Devex reports that PEPFAR, still fighting against HIV and AIDS, needs to go even further in order to continue the progress it has already made. If political support falters, the global health emergency will only increase and struggles will spread.
· How is PEPFAR critical in fighting the war against HIV and AIDS? How has this program helped people around the world?
· Read more about PEPFAR and the global HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Funeral processions clogged the streets of Harare, gravediggers in South Africa could not keep pace with deaths, and in Uganda everyone knew someone who had died from AIDS. Once the disease was identified, a diagnosis was almost always a death sentence, and many who received it were ostracized from their communities and cast out by their families. Doctors, with no treatments to provide, watched their patients grow sicker and more fearful. The United States government’s assistance helped parents create memory boxes for their children, and little else.
In the 1990s, the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa more than doubled, and by 2000 it was clear just how devastating the epidemic had become. That year, Dr. Melinda Wilson moved to South Africa with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Thinking back on that time, her voice trembled.
“We were burying people six deep at certain points in time in the epidemic,” said Wilson, a senior care and treatment advisor at USAID. “We were helpless; all we could do was help people die with dignity.”
Descriptions of what the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief has achieved in the last 15 years often include words “miracle,” and “unprecedented.” The initiative has provided antiretroviral medications to more than 14 million people, saved millions of lives, and helped stave off an epidemic that threatened to consume entire countries and cripple their economies. As PEPFAR celebrates its 15th anniversary this month, perhaps even more striking is the widespread agreement among the initiative’s biggest backers that if PEPFAR does not go even further — or if political support falters — the basic mathematics of disease will bring about a new emergency, wiping out a victory that was never fully achieved.
Read the full article about PEPFAR and the global fight against HIV/AIDS by Adva Saldinger and Michael Igoe at Devex International Development.