Barack Obama photo

Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at the Global Fund Congressional Breakfast

December 03, 2013

Good morning everyone. Thank you very much Michael for your introduction. Thank you Mark for your extraordinary leadership. Distinguished members of Congress, thank you for all you have done to make this possible. On behalf of President Obama and everyone in the Administration, I'm here this morning on a very simple mission. And that is to thank the Global Fund for its unstinting commitment to fighting AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria around the world and to reaffirm America's unwavering support for your tremendous work.

The Global Fund brings many partners together in common cause, and I'd like to thank, especially, two of the partners we've worked so closely with from the very beginning, the Government of the United Kingdom and the Gates Foundation. I'd also like to salute the leadership of current and former Members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle. Congress has consistently provided broad bipartisan support for PEPFAR and the Global Fund over so many years.

And as Michael said it is a tribute to what we can do when we come together in common cause. Michael you and Mark were both present at the creation of President Bush's revolutionary health initiative, which Congress just authorized for the third time this month, and which President Obama proudly signed into law yesterday. Across two administrations, Washington has consistently come together to sustain the fight to end the global AIDS epidemic.

Once again this year, we raised a two-story tall red ribbon from the North Portico of the White House in honor of World AIDS Day. That public recognition and commitment to continuing the struggle stands in stark contrast to those early years of stigma and shame, when an AIDS diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence.

I remember how different it was just twenty years ago. Back in the 1990s, I visited more than my share of health clinics in Africa and saw how often AIDS ravaged people had no hope of receiving treatment. But two years ago, when I last traveled to Rwanda as UN Ambassador, so much had changed. I visited a remarkably effective community health clinic offering prevention services and care to mothers and infants exposed to HIV. I also visited a first rate rural hospital treating HIV and other complex diseases with great skill. In the past 25 years, the story of people living with the HIV/AIDS has been transformed from one of tragedy into one of hope.

That's especially true in sub-Saharan Africa, where the Global Fund and PEPFAR are providing treatment for millions of infected people, and where AIDS-related deaths are down by one third, and new HIV-infections have declined by 40 percent. This June, we reached a milestone in our shared work to prevent mother-to-child transmission: the one-millionth baby born HIV-free. In 2008, PEPFAR reached 1.7 million with life-saving treatment. Yesterday, President Obama announced that we exceeded the ambitious HIV treatment targets he set two years ago, in 2011, by almost a million people—today, we are reaching 6.7 million people with life-saving treatment.

These are numbers worth celebrating. But, we're here today because there is still so much more to do. I'd like to thank Dr. Kamwi for his message that the fight is a priority in nations around the world, and something that you and your government remain committed to investing in. Globally, 35 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. More than one million are here in the United States. Around the world, 700 children are infected with HIV every single day. So, our mission is clear. We cannot stop until we have seen the last AIDS-related death, and no child is again born infected with HIV.

President Obama has scaled up PEPFAR's impact massively, and increased our commitment to the Global Fund, including a matching challenge to other donors. The United States will contribute $1 for every $2 invested in the Global Fund. If the international community meets the full potential of our challenge, it could increase our current contribution by as much as $1 billion over the next three years. So as President Obama said yesterday, don't leave our money on the table. Help us to make best use of it.

Ours is a 360-degree approach—from prevention to treatment to support for people living with HIV and their families. By working closely with our partners, we are on our way to achieving the dream we know is possible: the first AIDS-free generation. Not the end of HIV, but a day when the despair and suffering of AIDS is permanently consigned to history.

Yesterday, the President announced that the United States will host a meeting with our international partners next year to set new joint HIV prevention and treatment targets and outline a clear path of action. And, here at home, we are continuing to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, especially in communities where infection rates remain high, particularly among gay men, African-Americans and Latinos.

I want to assure you that the United States will continue to provide strong leadership -- in partnership with our friends in Congress. We need other countries to continue stepping up their response. We need NGOs, civil society and the private sector to sustain their contributions. And, we need the international community to track our commitments and help us meet the demands of this grave and urgent challenge.

We've seen how effective we can be when we stand together—the hope we can offer to a father who fears he will not be healthy enough to provide for his family; the reassurance we can give a mother who wonders if she will live to raise her children; and the future we can offer a child born today, HIV-free, who need never know the pain of this disease. That's why we are here today, and that's the reason we can't stop working until we achieve our goals.

Thank you, for all that you have done and all that you will continue to do.

Barack Obama, Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at the Global Fund Congressional Breakfast Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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