Empowering Women and Girls in the Global HIV/AIDS Response

July 25, 2012

MS. GIBSON: I now have the honor of introducing Ambassador Eric Goosby. Most of you know his role. He has, for the past three years, been our United States Global AIDS Coordinator. He directs the U.S. strategy for addressing HIV around the world. And he lead’s President Obama’s PEPFAR on implementation. He has been involved for 25 years on the frontlines in fighting AIDS and HIV. As a medical doctor, he was there at San Francisco General Hospital. Some of you here might be old enough to remember when it was the true frontlines, when this crisis was exploding in the early ‘80s. And I haven’t had a chance to meet Ambassador Goosby, but I believe I – as a Nightline producer covering AIDS back in the early ‘80s, I interviewed you, actually, at San Francisco General all those years ago.

So since that time, Ambassador Goosby has been not only a medical doctor treating AIDS patients, but of course, formulating AIDS policy for the United States and around the world. And it is my honor to introduce Ambassador Eric Goosby. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR GOOSBY: Thank you so much. It’s wonderful to have a panel that is full of friends, colleagues, mentors, and to have learned so much from all of you in this discussion. It was very revealing, and thank you for the candor and willingness to share the emotional connection to all of it, and I think we all felt that. I also want to recognize our Representative Jan Schakowsky who just came in during the discussion. Please acknowledge her. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Representative.

Well, I missed Secretary Sebelius, but I caught her as she walked out of the discussion. But my really good friends Tom Frieden and Raj Shah and, of course, Ambassador Verveer who has been just wonderful on this issue, Lois Quam who is in the audience. I sat next to her when we came in. I also would like to thank the Deputy Prime Minister – really profoundly inspiring energy and your commitment and your knowledge and your, I think, clarity of vision, and that’s, along with what you said, it was really inspiring to hear. And our wonderful reporter and someone who has given true testimony to these terrible issues.

I also want to acknowledge representatives from PEPFAR and its implementing agencies – of course, USAID, CDC, Department of Defense, Peace Corps, who contribute really daily, hourly, to PEPFAR’s successes. This is about us all coming together to make this program go to ground, and it is all through our implementing country partners that we are able to realize these services. I’d like to recognize our friends from Becton, Dickinson and Company for contributing to this effort in the global sense, but also for the exhibits that they’ve put here tonight to highlight women and girls’ health issues.

As you’ve heard this evening, HIV/AIDS is not just a health issue. It’s really a social issue that impacts men and women differently, and it’s an issue linked with and affected by gender inequity. Our success in fighting this epidemic is tied to our ability to recognize, and most importantly, to respond to this reality. As Secretary Clinton stated on Monday, women want to protect themselves from HIV and they want to access adequate healthcare. PEPFAR is an integral part of our government’s comprehensive effort to meet the health needs of women and girls working across the government and with our partners on HIV, maternal and child health, and reproductive health, including voluntary family planning.

I’m proud that PEPFAR has been a global leader in trying to address these issues, working to integrate a gender lens into our prevention, care, and treatment programs. PEPFAR remains committed to preventing and responding to gender-based violence which fosters the spread of HIV by limiting one’s ability to negotiate safe sexual practices, disclose HIV status, and access services. As you’ve heard from the panel, we’ve responded by integrating gender-based violence prevention and response into our HIV programs. Over the last two-and-a-half years, PEPFAR has invested over $155 million, as Raj was saying, in this area, and that investment continues to grow as we learn more about how best to address these issues within our clinical and community activities.

And we’re starting to have an impact on the programmatic level. In FY11, PEPFAR supported post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection for survivals of violence to over 47,000 people, nearly 34 percent of them the year before, an increase. That’s a staggering number, a shocking number. Though the national surveys on violence against children in Tanzania and Swazi undertaken by the Together for Girls partnership that Melanne referred to are also learning about the nature and extent of sexual violence experienced by girls and boys, this data makes it clear that our programmatic efforts need to be better tailored to respond to the needs of young people.

So this evening, I am pleased to announce new PEPFAR funding to support the Together for Girls partnership. PEPFAR will provide $5 million to support programming in response to the data produced by Together for Girls surveys. Our goal is to help partner governments and communities develop and strengthen their response to gender-based violence against girls, recognizing the special needs of these populations, and the complex challenges involved in meeting them.

While we’re on the topic of good news, let me also state that PEPFAR has also funded the re-launch of the What Works for Women website. This website provides strategies and evidence on a wide range of HIV programming for women and girls, especially across HIV technical areas. After nearly three decades of reviewing the evidence, the What Works team has identified and documented numerous HIV prevention care and treatment interventions that work and that are focused or specific for women and girls. Computer kiosks are located here tonight to display this website and I urge you all to use this valuable resource.

It’s my hope that the What Works for Girls website, as well as PEPFAR support for Together for Girls partnership, will improve health for women, men, boys, and girls so that all can harness and fulfill their full potential. Tonight, in the presence of representatives from countries all over the world, from government and UN agencies, civil society and the private sector, we celebrate all that we’ve accomplished in improving the health of women and girls and commit that there is much more to be done.

I hope that tonight’s event helps to reaffirm the commitment we need to achieve the Obama Administration’s commitment to an AIDS-free generation. I want to truly thank you all for the engagement on this vital issue tonight, and I hope that you’re able to enjoy the evening. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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