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Defense Department Observes World AIDS Day

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Defense Department is commemorating World AIDS Day today with a broad range of activities aimed at helping more than 70 partner militaries with their prevention, care and treatment programs.

“Leading with Science, Uniting for Action,” the theme of this year’s worldwide commemoration, describes how U.S. military members work hand in hand with militaries around the world to address the disease, said Matthew Brown, deputy director of the Defense Department’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Program.

The Naval Health Research Center in San Diego serves as DOD’s executive agent providing technical assistance, management and administrative support for the program.

DOD has provided partner militaries support, technical assistance and resources for their own programs since 2001. That effort expanded in 2003, Brown said, with the launch of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.

The five-year governmentwide program, managed by the State Department, proved so successful that it was extended in 2008 for another five years, through 2013, Brown reported. Meanwhile, its funding more than doubled, from $15 billion — the largest commitment any country had ever made to combat a single disease — to $38 billion for the second five-year period.

DOD’s role in the broader U.S. government program, conducted in cooperation with geographic combatant commanders and embassy defense attaches, enhances what Brown calls “health security cooperation.”

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