AHF: House AIDS Bill Abandons People with AIDS, Will Cost Millions of Lives
Bill Triples Funding, Yet Only Raises Treatment Goal 50%
February 07 2008 - WASHINGTON - AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today called on Congress to reject a House bill to reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States' global AIDS treatment plan. The bill, which will be marked up by the Committee on Foreign Relations next week, eliminates a requirement that 55% of the funding be spent on providing
AIDS medical care. In fact, while the proposed bill more than triples the amount of money available, it only calls for PEPFAR to support increasing the number of people on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment by half, and makes no provision for HIV testing in order to locate those with the virus and get them into treatment. With over 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, these changes to the structure and funding priorities of PEPFAR will set back efforts to control the virus, consigning tens of millions of people to death, creating hundreds of thousands of AIDS orphans in the process.
"We strongly oppose the current version of the House bill to reauthorize PEPFAR, which provides crucial funding for AIDS prevention, care and treatment around the world," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "This bill's requirement to support lifesaving antiretroviral treatment for only three million people (the current program aims to provide treatment to 2 million) and provide only basic non-medical AIDS care for 12 million others over the next five years is grossly inadequate. This bill will allow billions of dollars to be siphoned off by bureaucracies and corrupt governments around the globe, and will undermine the entire global AIDS effort. I strongly urge the Committee on Foreign Relations and Congress to reign in this porous, poorly crafted legislation to ensure that we do not roll back the progress that we have already made in the global fight against AIDS through PEPFAR."
"By failing to focus on providing AIDS treatment, this bill is a death sentence for millions. By seeking to do so many worthy things - nutrition aid, legal empowerment of women, care for orphans and vulnerable children - it virtually guarantees that none of it will be done right, and none of these problems will be significantly alleviated, much less solved. And it will come at the expense of millions of lives. We know this: without access to antiretroviral treatment, AIDS is a fatal disease," said Tom Myers, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's General Counsel. "As a result, PEPFAR will fall far short of its intended goal - if not outright fail in its attempt - all but guaranteeing the perpetuation of the global AIDS crisis."
PEPFAR was the result of President Bush's groundbreaking 2003 State of the Union pledge to bring two million HIV positive Africans and others into treatment and prevent seven million new HIV infections via a five-year, $15 billion US-funded program. It currently operates in 15 focused countries and claims to support antiretroviral treatment for 1.4 million people worldwide.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea, Communications Director
(323) 860-5225 work, (323) 791-5526 mobile
Lori Yeghiayan, Associate Director of Communications
(323) 860-5227 work, (323) 377-4312 mobile