U.S. legislation marks decade of success in HIV/AIDS battle

By June 26, 2013
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USA (MNN) — In 2003, it seemed HIV/AIDS would wipe entire generations off the map, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a report published by UNAIDS and WHO, this region topped the global HIV/AIDS charts.

Of the 40 million infected with HIV/AIDS in 2003, approximately 26.6 million lived in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of new HIV infections matched the number of people who were killed by AIDS in this region.

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European Union flag

That same year, Food for the Hungry (FH) brought 15 U.S.-based Christian groups together to fight the disease globally. The U.S. government awarded them $40 million to conduct HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and orphan care programs in eight countries.

Meanwhile, then-President George W. Bush signed into law the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This bill designated $15 billion toward reversing the downward spiral of HIV/AIDS globally.

FH President Dave Evans calls this “the most important single piece of foreign assistance ever focused on one area of need.”

Ten years down the road, PEPFAR and FH efforts are yielding a harvest.

At a recent PEPFAR tenth anniversary celebration, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the one-millionth at-risk baby will be born HIV-free this month.

The U.S. Department of State says new HIV infections have declined nearly 19% globally over the past decade, and AIDS-related mortality has decreased by 26% since peaking in 2005. In sub-Saharan Africa, new infections decreased 33% since 2003, and AIDS-related mortality has dropped 32%.

FH responds to the HIV/AIDS pandemic by providing physical, spiritual, and social support. Their work includes abstinence and prevention education, caring for orphans and vulnerable children, counseling and care for those too sick to leave their homes, and facilitating support groups for women with AIDS.

Since 2003, “We reached over two million youth and married couples with a message of prevention based on abstinence and faithfulness,” Evans said in a recent blog.

“In addition, we were able to positively impact the lives of thousands of [AIDS] orphans, as well as treat AIDS victims with anti-retroviral medicine.”

Get involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS through FH. Pray that FH programs will keep shining the hope of Christ to those at-risk.

Read more about the involvement of Food for the Hungry in the HIV/AIDS battle here and here.

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