U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, speaks at UNAIDS' Washington, DC Commemoration

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U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, speaks at UNAIDS' Washington, DC Commemoration

04 December 2011

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius speaks at UNAIDS' World AIDS Day event in Washington, DC. Panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, including one from TASO Uganda, are displayed behind the Secretary.
Credit: UNAIDS.

On a day when President Barack Obama announced new United States’ commitments to the AIDS response, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, spoke at a Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) hosted World AIDS Day commemoration event entitled "From Local to Global: Finding Common Cause in the AIDS Response."

The event was organized in collaboration with the District of Colombia (DC) Community Coalition for AIDS 2012 to help foster collaboration and shared learning between the United States domestic and the international HIV communities ahead of the International AIDS Conference to be held in Washington, DC in July 2012.

Secretary Sebelius called upon the audience of 300 activists, implementers and policy makers to redouble their efforts to reach an AIDS-free generation and to push towards the “Getting to Zero” vision both in the United States and globally. She reiterated an announcement by President Obama earlier in the day that the United States would support 6 million people on treatment in low- and middle income countries by 2013 and also allocate a further US$50 million to U.S. domestic programs.

The highlight of the event was a performance by the Hope for Africa’s Children Choir from Mukono, Uganda. The choir, which is includes children living with or orphaned by HIV, is visiting the United States at the invitation of the United Methodist Church and with the support of UNAIDS. Their compelling music and story-telling reinforced the tremendous progress made in the AIDS response, but also the substantial work that remains to be done.

Highlighting the HIV epidemic in the United States, Mr. George Kerr, a resident of Washington living with HIV, spoke for an urgent need for improved access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for citizens of Washington, DC.

Helene Gayle, President and CEO of CARE USA moderated the programme which also included remarks from Deborah von Zinkernagel, Principal Deputy Coordinator for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. Congressman Donald Payne, and Mr Kerr of the DC Community Coalition for AIDS2012.

Three quilt panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt Project, which documents the life stories of more than 40,000 lives lost to AIDS, were also exhibited during the event.