FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2015
Cardin Statement on World AIDS Day 2015
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in recognition of World AIDS Day, which is today, December 1.
“Today, we recognize the tremendous progress we have made in combating HIV/AIDS and redouble our commitment to preventing and treating this devastating disease. Years ago, many viewed AIDS as a death sentence. Before the year 2000, rates of infection grew exponentially. People living with HIV/AIDS had few options, and what options they did have were expensive and out of reach.
“Since 2000, new HIV infections have dropped by 35 percent. AIDS-related deaths are down 42 percent from their peak in 2004. To date, 15 million men, women, and children worldwide are on anti-retroviral therapy, compared to only 1 million in 2001. We’ve also made significant progress in tackling mother-to-child transmissions, which are key to ending the AIDS epidemic. Today, 73 percent of pregnant women living with HIV have access to anti-retroviral therapy, greatly reducing the likelihood that they will transmit the disease to their babies. As a result, since 2000, new infections among children have fallen by 58 percent. Because of our investments in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, health systems throughout Africa have been strengthened, allowing millions to gain access to medications and more advanced treatments.
“Thanks to sustained U.S. and global efforts – administered through programs like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund, and UNAIDS – we are making progress, not only in terms of slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS, but also by improving the lives of those affected by this disease.
“Doctors and researchers, many of whom who are based out of venerated Maryland institutions such as Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and The National Institutes of Health have helped the world fight our way out of a corner. We cannot relent. Though global trends are more promising, in 2013, there were an estimated 1,396 new HIV diagnoses in Maryland, and over half (53%) were among adults ages 20-39. This is unacceptable.
“We have made extraordinary progress; however, there is still much work to be done. Currently, there are more than 22 million people living with HIV who are not yet on treatment, and HIV is still the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide. We are on our way to an AIDS-free generation, but we can’t rest on our laurels now. On this World AIDS Day we recognize the progress we have made and recommit ourselves to continuing to combat HIV/AIDs both at home and abroad.”