Peter Piot Speaks at Peace Corps for World AIDS Day

Head of UNAIDS discusses U.S. strategic role in fighting AIDS

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 28, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter yesterday welcomed Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, to discuss the HIV/AIDS and the U.S. strategic response to fighting the disease as part of the Loret Miller Ruppe Speaker\'s Series sponsored by the Peace Corps.

"We are pleased to have Dr. Piot with us today to help us recognize World AIDS Day in 2007," said Director Tschetter. "Peace Corps Volunteers are currently working with villages, communities, families, and individuals around the world to promote HIV/AIDS education and prevention, as well as acceptance of those living with the disease."

During his speech, Piot discussed the status of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Even with recent successes in fighting the disease, Dr. Piot cautioned that AIDS is still "the worst epidemic of modern times." Piot said that 5,800 people die from HIV/AIDS every day, and that daily some 6,800 people become newly infected. He also noted that the epidemic is the sixth leading cause of death in the world, and the number one leading cause of death in Africa.

"We"re entering a new phase," said Piot on an optimistic note. "What we\'re seeing is a real return on investment." Piot lauded U.S. leadership on global HIV/AIDS issues, calling the President\'s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR "one of the most successful development programs in recent history." Said Piot, "Millions of lives are being saved because of this progress, because of PEPFAR, because of the global effort."

Looking to the future, Piot said, "We need to do everything we can to make use of the money that we have to make sure it gets to the people on the ground, to the communities, and this is also where Peace Corps Volunteers have really contributed. I\'m really glad we\'ve been associated with the work of the Peace Corps over the years. I hope that our collaboration and commitment will continue."

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are more than 8,000 Volunteers abroad, a 37-year high for Volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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