STATEMENT FROM PEACE CORPS DIRECTOR CAROL SPAHN ON WORLD AIDS DAY

(Washington, D.C. | Friday, December 1, 2023) – Today, the Peace Corps joins the global community in recognizing this significant day dedicated to raising awareness and commemorating those who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. This year’s theme “Remember and Commit,” pays tribute to the individuals, families, and communities impacted by this epidemic and recommits to the mission of ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), more than 40 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses since the virus was identified in 1984. In addition to all those directly impacted by HIV/AIDS, millions of families and communities have been devastated, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in history. Last year, over 39 million people globally were living with HIV; 1.3 million people, including 130,000 children, became newly infected with HIV; and 630,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

In partnership with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, Peace Corps is committed to achieving the vision of ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat. Across 13 PEPFAR countries in Africa and Europe, Peace Corps Volunteers and staff play an active role in ensuring HIV prevention and treatment services are accessible and equitable in the communities we serve. This includes partnering with host country stakeholders to facilitate awareness building, education, and enhancing care-seeking behaviors.

Through PEPFAR, Peace Corps has contributed to saving 25 million lives and attaining epidemic control in more than a dozen high-disease burden countries. We will continue to implement effective HIV programming as part of the agency’s newly launched HIV Strategy to reach the UNAIDS 95-95-95 target, building on the programmatic innovations and gains made through PEPFAR. Since 2003, PEPFAR has invested over $110 billion in the global HIV/AIDS response.

As we mark World AIDS Day, we stand in solidarity with those affected by HIV/AIDS and reaffirm our commitment to advancing global efforts to end this epidemic. Together, we can build a future where everyone, regardless of their background, can live healthy, thriving, and prosperous lives.

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