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AIDSrelief Marks Lifesaving Milestones

AIDSRelief, a consortium funded through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), celebrated two major project achievements in Baltimore today: more than 100,000 patients on antiretroviral therapy and 250,000 patients in care.

Dr. Gallo, Ken Hacket, Bishop Madden, Dr. Redfield and Dr. Amoroso

Dr. Robert Gallo, CRS President Ken Hackett, Bishop Denis J. Madden, Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Anthony Amoroso attended the event at CRS headquarters. Photo by Paul O'Donnell/CRS

The Catholic Relief Services-led alliance, which includes the University of Maryland's Institute of Human Virology, Constella Futures, Catholic Medical Mission Board and IMA World Health, marked these milestones during a celebration at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, Friday, March 7. Nearly 100 people attended. Among the speakers were CRS President Ken Hackett; Dr. Robert C. Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology and co-discoverer of the virus that causes AIDS; Dr. Robert Redfield, co-founder of the Institute of Human Virology; and the Most Revered Denis J. Madden, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore.

"More than 100,000 people are receiving the gift of life through antiretroviral treatment," said Hackett. "And more than 250,000 people with HIV who are not yet eligible for antiretroviral drug therapy are receiving vital care and support that is helping them to stay healthier longer before they need antiretrovirals."

Bishop Madden pointed out that this is also a major achievement for Catholic agencies like CRS and the Catholic Medical Mission Board: "approximately 25 percent of care to HIV and AIDS patients worldwide is provided by the Catholic Church and Catholic nongovernmental organizations," he said.

In less than three years, AIDSRelief has expanded to work in nine countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean through 150 local-partner treatment facilities.

"We activated a global health care giant: the American Catholic Church," remarked Dr. Redfield.

Though a celebratory event, speakers noted that there is much more work to be done to help those with the virus. "I hope we will be here when there is no HIV," said Dr. Gallo, the very man who identified the virus.

Hackett concluded by praising the PEPFAR initiative, but also called for its renewal: "We are pleased that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has reached a bipartisan consensus to renew and expand PEPFAR by $50 billion over the next five years. A vote by the full House of Representatives and comparable action in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the Senate floor should reflect the same spirit of cooperation and compassion."

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