Worlds AIDS Day

Vanderbilt University

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December 1, 2009

by Jenny Dyer, Ph.D.

Last night, Senator Frist spoke at Vanderbilt University's Student Life Center to over 250 friends, students, faculty, and guests in honor of World AIDS Day. The title of the talk: "Celebrating Life, Mourning Death: Continuing the Fight against Global AIDS" focused on where we've come from and where we're going, especially in terms of policy. Recounting his personal experiences in Africa with the AIDS pandemic and how he was able to use those experiences to shape and inform President Bush's decision to move forward to commit historic funding to fight a single virus, the Senator relayed the beginning of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003.

The Global Fund and the Millennium Challenge Corporation have also been important components to combat HIV/AIDS and other preventable disease.

The good news? Because of these historic initiatives, over 3.5 million people are now on ARVs (in 2002, only 50,000 Africans were on life-saving ARVs).

The bad news? The number of the globally newly infected continues to rise.

We have learned that the "health systems" approach is the best method. We cannot simply confront individual preventable illnesses in isolation. The world is interconnected, and that demands an integrated approach to global health.

Rooted in this principle, President Obama has put forth a comprehensive Global Health Initiative budget request for $63B over 3 years. This plan begins to focus attention on broader global health challenges, including the following: child and maternal health, family planning, neglected tropical diseases, cost effective intervention for HIV/AIDS, and a more integrated approach to fighting diseases, improving health, and strengthening health systems.

We are excited to announce that Hope Through Healing Hands will be sponsoring four Frist Global Health Leaders for 2010-2011 from Vanderbilt's School of Nursing, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt International Anesthesia, and Emergency Medicine.

World AIDS Day reminds us that there is much work to be done in terms of continued awareness, action, and advocacy. We encourage you to join us in the fight.

This Christmas, consider supporting one of our Frist Global Health Fellows. They are doing amazing work around the world saving lives. We are proud of our students and their care for the world's poorest.

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 Sankofa, The Blair School of Music's African Performing Ensemble