Outgoing US President George W. Bush's administration's program to fight AIDS, the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said, gave millions of people worldwide a reason to hope.
"A disease that was once thought to be a death sentence ... is now a disease that America is helping people to live with and to manage, so that they can be a part of their children's lives going forward," Rice told reporters.
AdvertisementShe gave her remarks upon the release of the fifth annual report to Congress of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) - a review of the program's first five years before Bush leaves office on January 20.
"I don't think that anything will stand as strongly in the hearts and minds of people around the world, but also in our own consciousness, as the work and the achievements of PEPFAR," Rice said.
US officials say just 50,000 people in all of sub-Saharan Africa were receiving life-saving anti-retroviral treatment when the program was born in 2003.
But, she added, by last October PEPFAR "supported life-saving anti-retroviral treatment for more than 2.1 million men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS around the world.
"PEPFAR has also supported prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services for women during nearly 16 million pregnancies, allowing an estimated 237,000 babies to be born without HIV," she said.
"We now support care for more than 10.1 million people affected worldwide, including more than four million orphans and vulnerable children who represent the hope for a brighter future."
The chief US diplomat called the program "the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in human history."
The figures echo those announced in December by Bush.