SAN MATEO, CA - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) released the following statement today on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011:
“The fight against AIDS is told every World AIDS Day with statistics and admonishments. This year we run the risk of complacency with the news that the number of people dying from AIDS globally has declined for the third consecutive year. There is much to be concerned about.
“The global economic downturn is reducing monies devoted to AIDS research and treatment. Estimates are that donor assistance declined from $8.7 billion in 2009 to $7.6 billion last year. Worse yet, while 6.6 million people are under treatment, 7.6 million people who are sick enough to need AIDS drugs are not being treated.
“While annual new infections are down 20 percent from the peak in 1997, we appear to have reached a plateau in recent years. Research does show that the virus will not be passed on if the infected person is treated with drugs. But efforts to prevent new infections have stalled. More than 56,000 people are newly infected each year in the United States—that’s one new infection every nine-and-a-half minutes. In California alone, more than 160,000 Californians currently live with HIV or AIDS and another 7,000 are infected each year.
“President Obama has established a national HIV/AIDS Strategy that sets a number of targets to be achieved by 2015, including lowering the number of new infections by 25%, and reducing HIV transmission by 30%. That’s also why Congress passed and the President signed into law a four-year reauthorization of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program – the largest federal program specifically dedicated to providing HIV care and treatment.
“Efforts to stop AIDS in other parts of the world have been far less successful, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly two-thirds of the international population that is infected with HIV—an estimated 22.9 million people—lives in this region, and 1.9 million more people there contracted HIV just last year.
“I salute Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who has laid out a plan for an “AIDS-free generation” by focusing treatment and prevention efforts on mothers to insure that mothers at risk would not infect their children.
”The bottom line is that we still haven’t found a cure for AIDS and until that day comes, we must continue to raise awareness that the fight to stop AIDS requires prevention, research and treatment. These actions, in turn, deserve appropriate levels of funding from not only our government, but from the world at large. AIDS should be everyone’s concern.”