Bill Clinton released a heartfelt statement for World AIDS Day earlier this week.
“Today is a day for reflection and even more, for rededication,” he said. "We reflect on the lives that have been lost to AIDS, the bravery of those who continue to live with HIV/AIDS and the commitment of so many worldwide to treat them. And we rededicate ourselves to eradicating the HIV/AIDS epidemic once and for all.
“The challenges we face are clear. There are 37 million living with HIV worldwide, only 54 percent of whom are aware of their status. But as we look ahead, we should take strength from the remarkable progress that has been accomplished over the last 15 years. The number of new infections has fallen by 35 percent; the number of people receiving critical antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the developing world has increased from under 1 million to nearly 16 million; and the number of deaths attributable to HIV/AIDS has dropped by 42 percent since peaking in 2004.
“We are proud to have been part of this progress through the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). This year, 9.9 million people worldwide have access to CHAI-negotiated HIV/AIDS medications, and we are pleased that just this week CHAI and its partners announced three new agreements that could increase access to more sustainable HIV drug regimens at reduced prices.
“Today and in the years to come, the international community — governments, businesses, multilaterals, and NGOs — must continue to strive toward achieving universal treatment, improving diagnostics, and helping all countries build strong, self-sufficient health systems to meet the needs of their people and maximize the effectiveness of their resources.
“The past 15 years have shown us that we can afford to be ambitious and that we have a responsibility to be so. We are committed to a world in which everyone who has HIV/AIDS or who is at risk for contracting the virus has access to the knowledge, treatment and support they need.”