"We call on the United States, Canada, and other donor countries to step up their support for efforts to develop effective vaccines and microbicides, while also maintaining and improving intervention programs that are proven to reduce new infections."
December 1, 2010, Washington, DC - This year, the first night of Hanukkah, December 1, coincides with World AIDS Day. Hanukkah celebrates the victory of a small group of Maccabees against the seemingly insurmountable armies of King Antiochus. We also remember of the miracle of Hanukkah, during which one day's supply of oil lasted for eight.
The ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS presents seemingly insurmountable challenges. For more than three decades the world has been battling HIV and AIDS, fighting for each life that has been touched by the virus. Throughout, we have celebrated the miracle of new drugs and treatments that have enhanced the quality and length of life for men, women, and children in the US and around the world.
This year's World AIDS Day theme is Universal Access and Human Rights. Global leaders have pledged to work towards universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention and care, recognizing these as fundamental human rights. Today, we urge our leaders to follow through on their commitments.
Our tradition teaches that when someone "saves one life[,] it is as though [they have] saved the universe." With more than 33 million people living with HIV and 2.6 million new infections in 2009, our religious obligation to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic is clear.
We call on the United States, Canada, and other donor countries to step up their support for efforts to develop effective vaccines and microbicides, while also maintaining and improving intervention programs that are proven to reduce new infections. We urge that funding for the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) be increased to meet our global commitments, and respond to the related threats of tuberculosis and malaria. These efforts must include effective family planning and maternal and child health promotion in order to be effective.
These steps, taken together, can help ensure that future generations, like the Maccabees, overcome the threat of a powerful foe.