The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), The George W. Bush Institute, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) announces Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon®, an innovative partnership to leverage public and private investment in global health to combat cervical and breast cancer – two of the leading causes of cancer death in women - in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
The press release from the initiative's launch:
"It’s time to take the next step in building on the progress that has been made over the past decade in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” said President George W. Bush. “Many women who seek AIDS services also face the challenge of cancer. It’s not enough to save a woman from AIDS, if she is then left to die of another very preventable disease."
The cervical cancer partnership will leverage the platform and resources of PEPFAR — established under President Bush and a cornerstone of President Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) — and will draw from lessons learned in the significant scaling-up of access to HIV interventions in recent years. As breast cancer has not been linked to HIV, PEPFAR funds will not be used for direct support of breast cancer activities. However, other Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partners will leverage the PEPFAR platforms, using other sources of funding, to support breast cancer efforts.
“Investing in women’s health is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon will save women’s lives and in turn help families and whole communities. Through this new partnership, the U.S. Government has committed an additional $10 million, which brings our total PEPFAR investment to $30 million over the next five years. Under the leadership of Secretary Clinton and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, the State Department is proud to join this important and ambitious partnership to address breast and cervical cancer globally,” said Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues.
Women whose immune systems are compromised by HIV are more likely to develop cervical cancer. Through PEPFAR, there is already screening and treatment of women at more than 250 clinics in 11 African countries. Through PRRR, PEPFAR has committed an additional $10 million, which will bring the total PEPFAR investment to $30 million over the next five years and ensure more women will be able to be screened and saved.
“Today the majority of women in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to critical breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment services and we must move quickly to address this growing epidemic,” said Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “The PRRR partnership builds on our long-standing efforts in Africa and globally to support innovative models that will save lives by detecting breast and cervical cancer earlier, when there is still time to treat it.”
With initial indications of interest, PRRR expects to have commitments of up to $75 million across 5 years, which will grow to include additional participants and services. The goals are to reduce deaths from cervical cancer by an estimated 25% among women screened and treated through the initiative, significantly increase access to breast and cervical cancer prevention, screening and treatment programs, and create innovative models that can be scaled up and used globally.
This public-private initiative includes initial commitments from founding corporate participants Merck, Becton Dickinson, QIAGEN, Caris Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and IBM.
“The rapid expansion of HIV prevention and treatment services over the past decade has saved millions of lives,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Uniting the efforts of two vital health movements means more women around the world will be reached with integrated—not isolated care.”
Infection with HIV weakens the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to fight infections that may lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is 4-5 times more common among women living with HIV than women who are HIV-negative.
There is an urgent need to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to addressing women’s cancers in developing nations, where these diseases are often neglected and associated with stigmas that discourage women from accessing life-saving prevention, care and treatment programs. By leveraging the significant investments made in HIV prevention, care and treatment, it is possible to integrate simple, cost-effective preventions, screening and testing methods and dramatically reduce mortality and late-stage diagnosis of cervical cancer, while continuing to increase access to breast care education.
No doubt singer and human rights activist Bono caused some indigestion as he praised former President George W. Bush on his legacy of fighting HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa, where he is much loved still today. Bono was on a cable channel news/entertainment show and told the host the following:
Bono also had praise for one American president in particular. Not President Barack Obama or former President Bill Clinton, but instead for President George W. Bush, who, according to Bono, had set a precedent for Obama to follow.
“We’re hoping very much that President Obama is going to follow through on what President Bush did,” Bono said. “I know that’s hard for you to accept. It was amazing. You know, people like John Kerry worked for this and Hillary Clinton, and eventually President Clinton did some extraordinary stuff renegotiating the prices of … very expensive drugs down. But George kind of knocked it out of the park. I can tell you, and I’m actually here to tell you, that America now has 5 million people being kept alive by these drugs. That’s something everybody should know.”
The Irish musician explained why AIDS was a pandemic and said to stem its spread, treatments were important.
“It’s a sort of math thing,” he said. “For every person you treat, two more are infected. That’s how it becomes a pandemic. The moment when you have infections is the moment when you can turn that around and the science is now with us. If you get these people the drugs early, if you get women in particular drugs early who are pregnant, and male circumcision, the third important bit, and then the beginning — the beginning of the end of AIDS if the American people still want to stay with this even in these harsh economic times — that is yours. You will really have turned this around.”