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ONE sounds the alarm: President Trump appears ready to surrender the global fight against AIDS

WASHINGTON — After 15 years of strong, bipartisan American leadership and incredible progress in the global fight against AIDS, the Trump Administration appears ready to trade the iconic red ribbon for a white flag of surrender, The ONE Campaign warned in a new report released ahead of World AIDS Day. The report details the impacts of the White House’s proposed budget cut of $800 million to bilateral HIV/AIDS efforts – including PEPFAR – and $225 million to the Global Fund, which would require a new strategy that would stop adding people to treatment in the hardest-hit countries and trigger a resurgence of the epidemic.

Epidemiologically, it is simply not possible to stop the spread of the disease without increasing the number of people added to treatment and preventing a higher number of infections each year, especially in the hardest-hit countries,” said the report’s lead author, Jenny Ottenhoff, director of global health policy at ONE. “The fight against HIV/AIDS is winnable, and we are finally getting ahead of the disease, but it can’t be done if the U.S. cuts funding for PEPFAR and The Global Fund, as the President’s budget has called for.”

“American leadership is the reason why there is hope in the global fight against AIDS, but now, President Trump appears ready to trade the iconic red ribbon for the white flag of surrender,” said Tom Hart, executive director for North America at ONE. “It is critical that Congress continues to restore funding for the AIDS fight, and continues strong oversight to ensure that the Administration does not unilaterally surrender the fight.”

Among the toplines of the 2017 ONE AIDS Report:

  • The Trump Administration’s proposed cut of $800 million from bilateral HIV/AIDS efforts – including PEPFAR – and a $225 million cut to The Global Fund would force PEPFAR to implement a strategy that could lead to 4 million deaths and 26 million new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 15 years. That works out to more than 790 deaths and 4,800 new infections each day in the hardest-hit region.
  • This strategy would lead to nearly 200,000 additional new HIV infections in the first year of implementation, and 600,000 additional new infections by 2020. Three years at this funding level would set global progress back nine years.
  • Nearly half of all people living with HIV without access to treatment live in countries whose bilateral AIDS assistance would be cut under the Trump Administration’s budget proposal. In all, President Trump’s budget request eliminates funding for seven PEPFAR partner- countries — Brazil, Djibouti, Liberia, Mali, Nepal, Senegal, and Sierra Leone — and reduces funding for 17 others — Afghanistan, Angola, Barbados and Eastern Caribbean, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
  • The world needs to increase the number of people on treatment by 2030 to get sufficiently ahead of the AIDS epidemic before the population of young people (aged 15-24) in sub-Saharan Africa doubles. The Trump Administration’s budget request would require a strategy for PEPFAR that would reduce the number of people added to treatment each year such that it would fall 3.4 million short of the 2020 target of 30 million people on treatment.

ONE’s 2017 AIDS Report is the organization’s sixth. Titled, “Red Ribbon or White Flag?: The Future of the U.S. Global AIDS Response,” the report looks at the remarkable history of the U.S. response to AIDS, including the progress made and the remaining challenges. The report also sounds the alarm on troubling signs that the administration could reverse course on this historic drive to end AIDS at the very moment the world is finally getting ahead of the disease.

“The world is turning the tide on AIDS and sustained U.S. leadership in the fight will result in a day when the disease is defeated,” the report says. “Slowing down now doesn’t simply lengthen that time, it pushes it out of reach as the disease resurges.”

Today, 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS globally, 25.2 million of them (69 percent) are in sub-Saharan Africa. When PEPFAR was created, 5,000 people were dying from AIDS every day, and another 7,000 were being infected each day. Today, PEPFAR supports more than half of all people receiving treatment worldwide and has saved more than 11 million lives over the past 15 years.