US President Obama’s Remarks on World AIDS Day 2011
Well, thank you, Sanjay. It is an honor to be with you today and to follow President Kikwete and President Bush. To Bono and Alicia, to the ONE campaign, thank you for bringing us together. Because of your work, all across Africa there are children who are no longer starving, mothers who are no longer dying of treatable diseases, fathers who are again providing for their families. And because of all of you, so many people are now blessed with hope.
We’ve got members of Congress who have done so much for this cause who are here today, and we want to thank them. Let me also thank President Bush for joining us from Tanzania and for his bold leadership on this issue. I believe that history will record the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief as one of his greatest legacies. And that program — more ambitious than even the leading advocates thought was possible at the time — has saved thousands and thousands and thousands of lives, and spurred international action, and laid the foundation for a comprehensive global plan that will impact the lives of millions. And we are proud that we have the opportunity to carry that work forward.
Today is a remarkable day. Today, we come together as a global community, across continents, across faiths and cultures, to renew our commitment to ending the AIDS pandemic once and for all.
Now, if you go back and you look at the themes of past World AIDS Days, if you read them one after another, you’ll see the story of how the human race has confronted one of the most devastating pandemics in our history. You’ll see that in those early years — when we started losing good men and women to a disease that no one truly understood — it was about ringing the alarm, calling for global action, proving that this deadly disease was not isolated to one area or one group of people.
And that’s part of what makes today so remarkable, because back in those early years, few could have imagined this day — that we would be looking ahead to “The Beginning of the End,” marking a World AIDS Day that has gone from that early beginning when people were still uncertain to now a theme, “Getting to Zero.” Few could have imagined that we’d be talking about the real possibility of an AIDS-free generation. But that’s what we’re talking about. That’s why we’re here. And we arrived here because of all of you and your unwavering belief that we can — and we will — beat this disease.
Because we invested in anti-retroviral treatment, people who would have died, some of whom are here today, are living full and vibrant lives. Because we developed new tools, more and more mothers are giving birth to children free from this disease. And because of a persistent focus on awareness, the global rate of new infections and deaths is declining.
So make no mistake, we are going to win this fight. But the fight is not over — not by a long shot. The rate of new infections may be going down elsewhere, but it’s not going down here in America. The infection rate here has been holding steady for over a decade. There are communities in this country being devastated, still, by this disease.