It is my great pleasure to send my best wishes and thanks to the participants of the 2009 HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting. I commend all of you for the important work you do every day to fight HIV and AIDS around the world. And I thank the government and the people of Namibia for hosting this conference. It is so important to the world’s fight against this dreaded disease.
This meeting is an example of what can be accomplished when governments, NGOs, community organizations, businesses, and people living with HIV and AIDS come together to fight this epidemic. Together, we have saved millions of lives, but now we must build on our success.
Here in the United States, we’re moving ahead with our efforts on global health. Last month, President Obama and I announced a new global health initiative to step up our fight against health challenges that threaten lives and communities in the world’s poorest regions. We will also expand our work with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief by using the health systems we’ve built to deliver other high-impact, low-cost care.
And as always, we’re seeking new opportunities to share knowledge and expertise, and to build stronger partnerships to fight this disease worldwide. You know good health is the foundation of strong families and stable communities. As the people on the front lines of the fight against HIV and AIDS, you know this better than anyone. And the lessons you have learned in the field can help us meet a range of global health and development challenges.
In particular, as we work to fight AIDS and promote development, we must focus on the lives of women and girls. Too many women and girls around the world are exposed to violence and sexual exploitation, and that puts them at greater risk for HIV infection. We all need to work harder to make sure that no girls anywhere are forced into prostitution or child marriage. And in every community, we must help women gain access to prevention and treatment to ensure that they can live longer and healthier lives, raise healthy children, and be a force for progress and change in their communities.
In the coming year, the United States will focus more on the health needs of women and children; for example, by targeting mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We see this as a key element of a broader, more effective approach to global health.
The Obama Administration and the American people are proud to support you as you work every day to turn the tide of the AIDS pandemic, one person at a time, one community at a time. I thank you for your efforts, and I wish you a productive and inspiring meeting, one that lays the groundwork for further success in the months and years to come.
Thank you very much.
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