Today, the House of Representatives is holding a hearing on PEPFAR. Obviously, there are many questions that should be answered - not the least of which is why the Administration continues to flat-line funding for this life-saving program. I wanted to share with you Health GAP's new analysis of PEPFAR's Five-Year Strategy, called "Making a Mistake on Treatment". Just when testing trends are so positive, just when the costs of medicines have plummeted to new lows, and just as scientific modeling and research shows that treatment reduces the risk of HIV transmission, funding - the lifeblood of AIDS programming - is being capped both by donor countries and their partners in the developing world that are suffering the worst of the global recession. As a result, people are beginning to stand in line and to die in that line while waiting for treatment.
Click here to read the analysis online. You can also download a PDF of it by clicking here.
Solemn promises to achieve universal access have been made repeatedly over the past 5 years, including by President Obama and other U.S. leaders, but the world is currently treating only 30% of those in need of treatment under new WHO treatment guidelines. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is rationing funding to meritorious applications and is running out of funds for new proposals. U.S. commitments to Global AIDS have been essentially flat-lined in FY 2009 and 2010 budgets and now in the proposed FY 2011 budget. That flat funding has a cost, and the cost is that twice as many PWAs will die under the PEPFAR Five Year strategy than would die under a universal access scenario.
AIDS treatment has had dramatic success in extending and improving lives in both rich countries and poor. It has also created positive synergies for other health services, it has rewarded people for knowing their status, and it has spawned the most powerful movement for global health justice the world has ever known. Given evidence of the impact of early treatment and lower viral loads on reducing the risks of horizontal and vertical transmission, treatment can also be a key component to comprehensive prevention - to actually reversing the tide of infection.
People are playing the blame game in a concerted backlash against HIV/AIDS programming and treatment in particular. And they are complaining about inadequate resources even as we spend trillions on financial sector bailouts and military adventures. There is more than enough to increase FY 2011 appropriations to $9 billion and to increase U.S. spending on its Global Health Initiative from $63 billion to $95 billion as demanded by a coalition of health activists in the U.S. Untreated, our brothers and sisters will die - with modest and pragmatic increases in funding and programming, the delayed goal of universal access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care can be reached.
- Brook Baker
Board Chair, Health GAP
Professor, Northeastern University
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