December 2, 2016
James W. Brewster
United States Ambassador
World AIDS Day Remarks
Friday, Dec 2, 2016 – Centro Sanitario
- Honorable Minister of Health, Altagracia (Alta-Gra-see-uh) Guzmán Marcelino (Mar-say-Lee-no)
- Mr. Santo Rosario, Director of COIN
- Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the press
It is a great honor to be here with you today in commemoration of World AIDS Day. Yesterday we had the opportunity to reflect on the great impact HIV/AIDS has had on the world and on this beautiful country. Today we are here to celebrate the wonderful partnership our two countries have to ensure that the nearly 70,000 Dominicans who are living with HIV, and the thousands more who are affected, have access to the prevention and treatment services they need to live long, healthy, and productive lives.
We celebrate the contributions Centro Sanitario has made to reducing stigma and discrimination toward people living with HIV, because we know that discrimination against any one of us lessens our collective human dignity.
We celebrate the Government of the Dominican Republic’s commitment to meeting its “90-90-90” goals by funding ARV medication for all of its citizens. This commitment will ensure that all those who walk through the doors of this clinic will get access the treatment they deserve.
And we at the U.S. Embassy celebrate the historic act of compassion on the part of the American people who, since 2003, have supported life-saving treatment for more than 10 million people globally through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or “PEPFAR”.
The PEPFAR program brings together the combined expertise of our government agencies – CDC, USAID and the Department of Defense. Their work is evident at this health center and we hope it affirms our partnership with the Dominican Republic to work toward ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat in the country.
This place – Centro Sanitario – is a special place in the history of the global fight against HIV/AIDS. This health center was the very first to provide HIV services to those affected in the country, beginning in 1990. And it was here that real-life heroes, such as Doctors Ivelisse Garris, Mónica Thormann, Heidi Peña and Nurse Consorcia Veras, helped set up this center and dedicated their lives to caring for people living with HIV regardless of their social or economic status.
And we must remember that ending HIV/AIDS starts with each and every one of us. Every one of us can do our part by getting an HIV test and supporting our friends and family to do the same. As President Obama said, “Together, we can forge a future in which no person — here in America or anywhere in our world — knows the pain or stigma caused by HIV/AIDS.”