PEPFAR program marks 20 years, 20 million lives saved

April 5, 2023—In 2003, the George W. Bush administration launched the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a massive effort to tackle what was then a raging global epidemic. It was the largest public health effort by one country against a single disease, and as of late last year, has provided lifesaving treatment to more than 20 million people suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Phyllis Kanki, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, helped start the AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria in 2000 and served as principal investigator for Harvard’s PEPFAR program from 2004 to 2013. She reflected on the program successes and lessons for future public health efforts in a March 27 Scientific American article.

“I think PEPFAR has provided the solution to what was not a livable and survivable disease for scores of people who never would have had access to [HIV drugs] in the past. I think that was the big change and why it will be heralded as a huge global health success story,” she said.

Read the Scientific American article: Millions of People Living with HIV Are Alive, Thanks to a 20-Year Public Health Effort