World AIDS Day 2012: Mountains are Moving
In our day to day lives it is safe to assume that most of us live and work under the assumption that no mountains are going to be moved. It is easy to look at the state of the world and not be able to imagine it any other way. Maybe we can see the possibility for a few changes around the edges, but no radical shifts.
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Today is not one of those days. By 2015, we could have an AIDS free generation.
AIDS was first identified nearly 30 years ago and has claimed countless lives. Currently, 1,000 babies around the globe are born with the virus each day. During much of the past few decades it’s been hard to see much hope when it comes to turning the tide against this disease.
But, thanks to smart public health decisions, public investment in strategies that work, and innovative implementation by NGO’s, we can now begin to envision a day when this mountain will be moved. During FY 2011 PEPFAR, (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief) supported the prevention of 200,000 children contracting HIV/AIDS from their mother.
With continued investment we are just a few years away from preventing nearly ALL children from being born with the virus.
President George W. Bush, whose administration first initiated PEPFAR, had this to say:
I wish every American could see the individuals whose lives have been transformed by our efforts. Thanks to PEPFAR, approximately 450,000 children have been born HIV-free since 2004 even though their mothers have the disease. I’ve met many HIV-positive mothers who have given birth to healthy children because of PEPFAR. One of them, Kunene Tantoh of South Africa, came to the White House with her son Baron in 2007. Watching him smile, I could see the life and vitality our efforts are making possible. Thanks to treatments she received, Kunene broke HIV’s bonds of death, and Baron was given a chance to live a full and productive life.
And that’s part of what makes today so remarkable, because back in those early years, few could have imagined this day -- that we would be looking ahead to “The Beginning of the End,” marking a World AIDS Day that has gone from that early beginning when people were still uncertain to now a theme, “Getting to Zero.” Few could have imagined that we’d be talking about the real possibility of an AIDS-free generation. But that’s what we’re talking about. That’s why we’re here. And we arrived here because of all of you and your unwavering belief that we can -- and we will -- beat this disease.
Here’s the thing. Now that the beginning of the end is here, Christians need to be louder about our commitment to overcoming pandemic diseases and extreme poverty more than ever before.
President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush came together today to celebrate this work. Commitment to the issues should never be a partisan issue. But, to date, Rick Santorum is the only GOP candidate to publicly express his commitment to poverty focused foreign aid.
The mountain is moving, and people of faith need to be at the front line of making sure that doesn’t stop.
Tim King is Director of Communications and Special Assistant to the CEO. Follow Tim @TMKing