A former colleague of mine posted this link to her Facebook page and I thought I’d write about it. The link connects to a 60 Minutes video about the impact of what is arguably the single greatest policy action of President W’s presidency – PEPFAR, or the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR, is a true health care reform act that lacks all the byzantine, labyrinth-like complexities of the recently passed health care act in the United States. It’s crystal clear in its purpose and its results. PEFAR is saving lives and transformed those waiting to die into people living with hope. Because of PEPFAR:
- Seven milli0n mothers, mostly in Africa, are receiving life-saving HIV testing and education about preventing HIV transmission to their children resulting in nearly 100,000 children being born free of the virus.
- More than 77 million adults have received education about HIV/AIDS and ways to prevent including abstinence.
- More 21 million people have been tested for HIV (testing is a key step to preventing the spread of AIDS)
- Nearly 2.5 million people are now living with HIV instead of dying with AIDS thanks to ARV drugs being provided by the program.
Personalizing the Statistics
Even though American taxpayers are making a real difference in the global fight against AIDS, many citizens do not know about PEPFAR or the life-changing effects it is having. Or if they do they see only statistics instead of real people. So when I hear news about AIDS in Africa, my mind always goes to Iradakunda.
Iradakunda lives in Rwanda with his mom. He doesn’t know what HIV, ARV or AIDS means. But he knows what death is. Iradakunda’s father died from AIDS. His mother is HIV positive and so is Iradakuna. But the young boy no longer misses school because of sickness and his mother is no longer contemplating suicide, thanks to Compassion International’s AIDS Initiative. The ministry helps children who are orphaned or affected by HIV. You can read more about Iradakunda and donate to help here.
The effect ARV therapy has had on Iradakunda is miraculous. You can see more of what’s being called “The Lazarus Effect,” by watching the HBO documentary. Scheduled to air on May 24, this documentary chronicles life after a death sentence stories of men, women and children diagnosed with AIDS who are now living because of ARV therapy. You truly have to see it to believe it. Something that just costs less than a cup of Starbucks coffee a day is saving lives. (It’s estimated that ARV therapy using generic drugs costs just $300 a year for one person).
It is not unthinkable to believe that we could stop the world’s No. 1 killer. Get educated. Become Aware. Get Involved.