STATEMENT BY HHS SECRETARY TOMMY G. THOMPSON
Regarding World AIDS Day 2002
This World AIDS Day 2002 is a time to strengthen our resolve and to remember the 25 million people lost in the first two decades of this terrible global epidemic. President Bush and his administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services, are committed to overcoming the deadly menace of HIV/AIDS both nationally and internationally.
Clearly, HIV/AIDS is one of the most serious challenges facing humanity. It is estimated that 45 million people worldwide will be infected with HIV in the coming decade. And some 44 million children will lose one or both parents to AIDS in those same ten years.
That is almost too painful to contemplate. HIV/AIDS is taking an especially harsh toll in disadvantaged communities, but this disease is exacting a personal, social and economic toll in every neighborhood and in every nation.
HHS has the lead in the Administration’s commitment to end the HIV/AIDS
epidemic. We are devoted to finding a cure and an effective vaccine. That
is why the National Institutes of Health budget request for fiscal year 2003 includes $2.8 billion for HIV research — a more than $500 million increase over 2001.
Overall, HIV/AIDS spending by the U.S. government has increased from $14.2 billion in fiscal year 2001 to well over $16 billion for fiscal year 2003. That includes a doubling in international HIV/AIDS funding over the same period. But no government agency can match what we Americans can do together as a nation.
That is why on this World AIDS Day 2002, each of us should consider how we can help in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The need is apparent. Approximately 900,000 Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, and many of them don=t even know they are infected. In addition, some 40,000 are newly infected with HIV every year. Each of us can and must make a difference.
That may mean volunteering, caring for the sick or helping with an education program. Certainly it begins with learning the facts about HIV/AIDS and sharing those facts with your family, your co-workers and your community.
For all the fear it engenders, HIV/AIDS is powerless against a well-informed person making the right decisions. Prevention and personal choices are the ultimate keys to defeating this virus. For more information on HIV/AIDS, call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-2437.
There is only one way this nation and this world can conquer HIV/AIDS — that way is together. So please join in this World AIDS Day observance and continue this critical battle, so that our children’s children will see our efforts today as the turning point in stopping this deadly epidemic.