World AIDS Day is December 1, and there are worrying signs that the commitment to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS is waning. The letter below, signed on to by the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness and other NGO and faith communities, urges continued US commitment.
November 29, 2017
The Honorable Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader Washington, DC
The Honorable Paul Ryan Speaker of the House Washington, DC
The Honorable Charles Schumer Senate Democratic Leader Washington, DC
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi House Democratic Leader Washington, DC
We are writing to sound the alarm.
World AIDS Day is on Friday, and for the first time in more than a decade, we will mark the day by not only celebrating the incredible progress we have made against the disease, but worrying that the U.S. commitment to ending AIDS is waning.
The bipartisan support for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) that runs deep in Congress is a major reason the efforts to end AIDS have been so incredibly successful. The resolve of Republicans and Democrats in Congress these past 15 years has created a hope unimaginable before the creation of PEPFAR and the Global Fund. PEPFAR has saved 11 million lives, currently supports 11.5 million people on treatment, and has ensured that more than 2 million babies have been born HIV-free to HIV-positive mothers. The Global Fund has saved 22 million lives and currently supports 11 million people on treatment. The DREAMS partnership has already reached over 1 million adolescent girls and young women with HIV program interventions.
We look to you again to harness that support to steer these programs towards continued success.
We have profound concern about the direction the Executive Branch appears to be taking the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Administration’s FY 2018 budget proposal and the State Department’s new strategy for PEPFAR have caused us to doubt the White House’s commitment to fighting the epidemic.
At a moment when we are finally getting ahead of the disease and its impact on communities, a reduction in funding like the Administration proposed – and implementation of PEPFAR’s new strategy, which aligns with those budget cuts – would directly result in cuts to the number of people accessing HIV prevention, care, and treatment, and likely trigger a resurgence of the global epidemic.
We are deeply grateful that Congress intervened and dismissed the Administration’s proposed funding cut for PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria in FY18. Even with full funding, however, the new PEPFAR strategy gives us pause about the trajectory of the program. By focusing on achieving control of the epidemic in 13 “priority” countries, while only maintaining life-saving treatment in other countries, this strategy runs the risk of forfeiting gains in some of the highest burden countries in the world. Additionally, the strategy does not take into account vulnerable populations like children, who do not contribute to epidemic control but are still being deeply impacted by the disease. It further fails to prioritize the key populations disproportionately impacted by the epidemic, including men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people.
It is critical that Congress continues to fund PEPFAR and the Global Fund to — at least — the level at which it operated in 2017. It is critical that Congress insists that the Administration fulfills the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund, and that funding for both programs does not come at the expensive of other effective humanitarian and development assistance, which work together to serve the common goal to building a healthier, safer, more prosperous world. And PEPFAR must be allowed to pursue a strategy ambitious enough to help the world get 30 million people on treatment and to reduce the number of new infections per year to 500,000 by 2020.
We’re grateful for your leadership, and your continued commitment to ending AIDS.
Adventist Development and Relief Agency International
Advocates for Youth
American Hindu World Service
amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Catholic Medical Mission Board
Center for Health and Gender Equity
The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS
Council for Global Equality
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
The Episcopal Church
Faiths for Safe Water
Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB & Malaria
Global Health Council
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV
Global Network of Black People Working in HIV
HIV Medicine Association
Infectious Diseases Society of America
The International Partnership for Microbicides
International Women’s Health Coalition
Islamic Relief USA
John Snow Inc.
National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA
The ONE Campaign
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Save the Children
Treatment Action Group
The Regional Interagency Task Team on Children and AIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa