This World AIDS Day is a time to reflect on what this global crisis is costing us. It’s a cost that’s measured in generations lost, in cultures traumatized, and in societies that have grown more unstable as a result of this pandemic. And it’s a cost that 33 million people worldwide bear each day as they struggle to live with this disease. And what makes all of this so heartbreaking is that it was – in each and every case – entirely preventable.
And yet, this is also a time to draw inspiration from the stories of heroism that are being lived each day. It’s a time to draw hope from the extraordinary perseverance of those helping combat this disease around the world. And above all, it’s a time to stay focused on the task ahead – stopping the spread of this disease once and for all.
That is what I will fight to do as President. As part of my comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy, we’ll provide $50 billion by 2013 to fight the pandemic, and contribute our fair share to the Global Fund. I’ll work to dispel the stigma surrounding this disease, which is what Michelle and I tried to do by taking a public HIV test in Kenya a while back. I’ll expand the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief by $1 billion a year in new money over the next five years so we can reach more people in places like Southeast Asia, India, and Eastern Europe, where the pandemic is growing. We’ll make sure medications developed with taxpayer dollars are available as generics in developing countries – because a person shouldn’t be denied life-saving drugs just because we can’t find a way to reform our patent laws. And we’ll work to eliminate the extreme poverty that permits HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria to flourish by doubling our foreign assistance from $25 billion per year to $50 billion per year by 2012.
But leadership on HIV/AIDS has to start at home. We recently learned that our nation’s capital has the highest AIDS infection rate of any city in this country. That is an outrage. It’s time to launch a national effort to stop this disease, starting with African Americans, who are being affected disproportionately.
We cannot give the boy back the parents he lost or the woman back the future she had dreamed of. But what we can do is prevent any more suffering. What’s stopping us is not a lack of knowledge or resources, but a lack of will. And until we – as Americans and as human beings – summon the will to end this moral crisis, the conscience of our nation cannot rest.
Barack's Address to the Global AIDS Summit at Saddleback Church 11/29/07
Read Barack's Plan Overview