You’ve got to just give it to Bill!
I met Ricky Ray in 1992 during my first presidential campaign. Ricky was a hemophiliac who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion and he died a few weeks before my inauguration. For the past 14 years, I've kept Ricky's picture on my desk as a reminder of the 40 million people in the world who live with HIV/AIDS.
While we couldn't save Ricky Ray in 1992, it is my goal, and the goal of my Foundation, to make sure that the millions of people who are living with HIV/AIDS have a chance at life. Every day, we are making progress towards ensuring that no adult or child dies prematurely of this preventable disease.
|My Foundation has already made progress in this fight by reducing the cost of care and treatment for children and adults. Hundreds of thousands of people in over 55 countries are currently receiving anti-retroviral medicines at our dramatically reduced prices, and in the past year, we have doubled the number of children on treatment in the developing world (outside Brazil and Thailand).
Traveling around the world, I have met children in Lesotho, mothers in rural China, and teenagers in Kenya — all once on the brink of death, but now glowing with the promise of life because of access to anti-retroviral medicines. However, these stories of success are too few, and the ravages of AIDS continue to kill millions.
I am heartened by the progress we are making but saddened by how few children are receiving treatment. While it is encouraging that we can provide a woman in rural Africa with AIDS medicines from the other side of the globe, it is unacceptable that we cannot empower her sufficiently to protect herself from the disease in the first place.
There are thousands of people in governments, NGOs, and multilateral agencies working tirelessly to combat and treat this disease. It's thanks to those efforts that 1.3 million people are getting the medicines they need to stay alive. But 1.3 million isn't enough when millions more go without treatment.
Access to lifesaving care and treatment are now universal in the United States. If we can do the same thing in the developing world, we will save a generation of lives by the end of the decade. We have a long way to go, but we are making progress. During the next few weeks, I will be emailing you with ways you can get involved in our Foundation's mission to win the fight against AIDS.
Working together, we can beat this human tragedy.