This week, First Lady Michelle Obama is visiting South Africa and Botswana, focusing on youth leadership, education, health and wellness. Today, Mrs. Obama met with organizations dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS in South Africa, including groups that use soccer to convene and educate children about HIV/AIDS. Tomorrow, she will meet with a Teen Club in Botswana that teaches teens about leadership and how to educate others about HIV.
During her meetings with African youth, Mrs. Obama is highlighting the importance of youth leadership in fighting HIV/AIDS. These young men and women grew up watching family members and friends taken by this devastating virus. But today they know there is hope. They have seen dramatic change in recent years – thanks to strong leadership from their Government with support from the American people – where people who were once dying are now living. These youth can be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS.
The United States is proud to be supporting South Africa, Botswana and countries around the world in leading their fight against HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, there are more than one million people on life-saving HIV treatment today, a far cry from the 50,000 people on treatment in all of sub-Saharan Africa in 2003. And Botswana is now closing in on the goal of eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission.
These successes are being replicated in countries around the world thanks to support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Globally, the United States is supporting more than 3.2 million people on life-saving treatment. In 2010, PEPFAR directly supported 11 million people on care, including 3.8 million orphans and vulnerable children. And PEPFAR-supported programs reached over 600,000 mothers with services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, leading to more than 114,000 infants being born HIV-free in 2010 alone. For millions of youth around the world, these numbers represent parents, friends and community leaders who are now living with HIV instead of dying from it. As we focus on results, America is also supporting countries so they can lead their fight in the future and continue to save even more lives.
The Obama Administration is more committed than ever to build on the successes of the last decadeand to continue to work with other governments and partners as we all work toward our shared goal of a world without HIV/AIDS. And we hope the millions of lives saved to date will inspire youth in Africa and around the world to continue their fight for an HIV-free future.
Ambassador Eric Goosby is the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State.