President Obama announces bold new AIDS commitments

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As you all saw (either in person or via YouTube), President Obama commemorated World AIDS Day this morning by stepping up America’s commitment to the fight against AIDS, both domestically and internationally. In addition to his broad rhetoric on the importance — and feasibility — of ending AIDS, he made a number of specific commitments. The US will:

  • Provide more than 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women with antiretroviral drugs to prevent them from passing the virus to their children over the next two years
  • Provide more than 6 million people with antiretroviral treatment through PEPFAR — two million more than their previous goal — by 2013
  • Provide support for more than 4.7 million voluntary medical male circumcisions in Eastern and Southern Africa over the next two years
  • Distribute more than 1 billion condoms over the next two years
  • Stand by the US’ historic multi-year pledge to the Global Fund

These commitments are particularly exciting because they closely mirror the three asks of ONE’s “beginning of the end of AIDS” campaign: virtually eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV, scale up treatment at a pace to meet 15 million people on treatment by 2015, and implement innovative prevention techniques (such as voluntary male circumcision) to dramatically reduce new infections. And just as we called on European and African governments to step up their efforts alongside the US, President Obama reinforced that financing the fight against AIDS should be a shared global responsibility.

In spite of a challenging budget environment, the US government will achieve their new goals with minimal new funding, in large part by saving significant resources through the following reforms:

  • Instituting more efficient procurement via a new pooled supply chain management system
  • Expanding use of generic ARVs
  • Switching from air to land and sea freight –- still delivering live-saving drugs on-time, and for less money
  • Maximizing investments through better coordination with the Global Fund and the elimination of parallel systems

Finally, President Obama directed $50 million in increased funding for domestic HIV/AIDS treatment and care — $35 million of which will go to state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) waiting lists, and $15 million of which will go to the Ryan White Part C program for HIV medical clinics across the US.

We are grateful for President Obama’s continued leadership on HIV/AIDS, building on the legacies of his predecessors President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton on this issue, as we mark World AIDS Day 2011. We are also appreciative of all the advocacy work done by ONE members, (RED) supporters, and our partner organizations to push for and support such an announcement today. We still have a lot of work left to do to in this fight — we have to turn an announcement made in DC into progress in the field, and donors must scale up resources for effective mechanisms such as the Global Fund now more than ever. But today, as we take time to reflect on the devastation this pandemic has caused, we celebrate being one step closer to seeing the beginning of the end of AIDS.