WEDNESDAY, Jan. 24, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. government program to prevent, treat and care for people with HIV/AIDS in poor countries has been highly effective and should continue, experts say.
Since 2003, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has provided drug therapy to more than 13 million men, women and children, as well as voluntary circumcisions to more than 15.2 million men to reduce HIV risk.
The program has also provided prenatal care that prevented 2.2 million HIV infections in newborns; and support for more than 6.4 million children affected by HIV, researchers report.
PEPFAR also helps prepare health systems in poor nations to respond to disease outbreaks, U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases experts write in the Jan. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
They say continued support for the program from the U.S. Department of State is needed to ensure a worldwide response to HIV, and to serve as an example for addressing other infectious diseases.
When President George W. Bush launched PEPFAR in 2003, it targeted 14 nations with high rates of HIV infection and AIDS deaths. The program has since expanded to more than 50 countries, where it is helping many communities control HIV -- a key step in ending the global pandemic, according to the report authors.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on HIV/AIDS.