Meeting the Global Challenge of HIV/AIDS: Why the United States Should Act Quickly

Erica Barks-Ruggles
Erica Barks-Ruggles Former U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda

April 1, 2001

More people have died from HIV/AIDS over the last twenty years than from any other disease in human history. The devastation caused by the epidemic poses a clear and direct challenge to long-term U.S. economic and security interests. AIDS is devastating whole societies and economies, depriving countries of the educated and skilled individuals required to build democratic governments, professional militaries, and free market economies.

As the epidemic devastates Africa, it is in America’s interests to undertake aggressive global efforts to mitigate its impact on Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. To meet this challenge, the United States needs to construct and carry out a long-term strategy to defeat AIDS. American leadership to increase funding, accelerate the search for a vaccine, expand access to medicines, and form partnerships with affected governments, businesses, and communities will be critical.