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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights: Pompeo praises PEPFAR in World AIDS Day statement


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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday issued a statement that acknowledges World AIDS Day.

“On
World AIDS Day, we mourn all those we’ve lost and reaffirm our commitment to
end the global AIDS epidemic,” tweeted Pompeo.

Pompeo’s statement did not explicitly acknowledge LGBTQ people who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began nearly four decades ago. Pompeo, however, noted the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and its efforts to fight HIV/AIDS around the world.

“Thanks to PEPFAR, we’ve saved 20 million lives, prevented millions of HIV infections and strengthened global health security in over 50 countries around the world,” tweeted Pompeo.

Dr.
Deborah Birx, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator and special representative for
global health diplomacy at the State Department, also coordinates the White
House’s coronavirus task force. Birx on Tuesday in a World AIDS
Day statement posted to the State Department’s website
also applauded
PEPFAR.  

“This
World AIDS Day, as we approach
the 40th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS, it is breathtaking to
reflect on how far we have come and how far we still need to travel together,
as a global community, in saving and improving millions of lives touched by the
pandemic,” said Birx. “Over the past 18 years, with strong bipartisan
leadership across multiple U.S. presidencies and U.S. congresses, and the
incredible generosity of the American people, the U.S. President’s Emergency
Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has helped transform the HIV response from crisis
toward control.”

“Where AIDS once meant unfathomable death and despair, there is now vibrant life and hope,” she added. “The figures speak for themselves — 20 million lives saved, millions of HIV infections prevented, and the AIDS epidemic being controlled in a growing number of countries — but the numbers cannot fully capture the magnitude of what the U.S. government has accomplished through PEPFAR, working in close partnership with countries and communities around the world.”

UNAIDS indicates 38 million people around the world were living with HIV in 2019. The agency’s statistics indicate 32.7 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the epidemic began.

The
World AIDS Day proclamation that President Trump issued
on Monday did not specifically mention LGBTQ people. The outgoing
administration pledged to end the epidemic by 2030, but it’s proposals to cut
PEPFAR funding have been sharply criticized.

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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights