On Wednesday, I went to a Congressional hearing titled “PEPFAR: From Emergency to Sustainability and Advances Against HIV/AIDS.” It was held by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Rayburn House Office Building. Several members of Congress (including Rep. Berman, Rep. Smith, Rep. Watson, Rep. Lee, and Rep. Woolsey ) came to discuss the challenges and successes of PEPFAR so far and how to make it more effective in the future.
The President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) launched in 2003 by President Bush and is the largest effort by any nation to combat a single disease and provides life-saving care to millions of people every year.
The first panel of witnesses, which included Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, discussed how HIV/AIDS treatment could work as prevention of future cases. He also said we should work together with diverse groups of community members, governments, religious groups and hospitals to create better results.
Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, and Paula Akugizibwe of AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa talked said that treating AIDS connects to maternal and child health and that stigmatization of HIV/AIDS in many communities can make it difficult for people to receive necessary treatment. Congress talked about making PEPFAR’s work sustainable, improving efficiency and effectiveness and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
In the end, both the members and the witnesses agreed that they share the common goal of saving more lives through programs like PEPFAR and agreed to work together toward that goal. As a ONE team member, I couldn’t have agreed more.