WASHINGTON — Ahead of World AIDS Day on Friday, over 35 of the nation’s leading AIDS and global health advocacy organizations have sent a letter to Congress warning them that America’s commitment to ending AIDS appears to be waning and calling on Congress to continue the United States’ leadership in response to this epidemic. For the past 15 years, the U.S. has been a stalwart and essential leader in the global AIDS response, but President Trump’s proposed budget and the new PEPFAR strategy are, for the first time, calling that leadership into question.
“We are writing to sound the alarm,” the letter reads. “We have profound concern about the direction the Executive Branch appears to be taking the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Administration’s FY 2018 budget proposal and the State Department’s new strategy for PEPFAR have caused us to doubt the White House’s commitment to fighting the epidemic. It is critical that Congress continues to fund PEPFAR and the Global Fund to — at least — the level at which it operated in 2017. It is critical that Congress insists that the Administration fulfills the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund, and that funding for both programs does not come at the expensive of other effective humanitarian and development assistance, which work together to serve the common goal to building a healthier, safer, more prosperous world. And PEPFAR must be allowed to pursue a strategy ambitious enough to help the world get 30 million people on treatment and to reduce the number of new infections per year to 500,000 by 2020.”
The letter’s signatories include: Adventist Development and Relief Agency International; Advocates for Youth; American Hindu World Service; amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research; Association of Nurses in AIDS Care; AVAC; Catholic Medical Mission Board; Center for Health and Gender Equity; The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS; Council for Global Equality; Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; The Episcopal Church; Faiths for Safe Water; Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB & Malaria; Global Citizen; Global Health Council; The Global Forum on MSM & HIV; Global Network of Black People Working in HIV; Guttmacher Institute; Health GAP; HIV Medicine Association; Housing Works; International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; Infectious Diseases Society of America; The International Partnership for Microbicides; International Women’s Health Coalition; IntraHealth International; Islamic Relief USA; John Snow Inc.; NASTAD; National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA; The ONE Campaign; PAI; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Presbyterian Church (USA); Save the Children; Treatment Action Group; The Regional Interagency Task Team on Children and AIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa
The full letter is available here.
The community letter comes on the heels of a new report issued this week by The ONE Campaign that further illustrates how the Trump Administration’s proposed budget would require a new strategy that would reduce the number of people added to treatment each year by a third and trigger a resurgence of the epidemic. Here’s how the Administration’s proposed budget and strategy would impact the global fight against HIV/AIDS:
- The Trump Administration’s proposed cut of $800 million from bilateral HIV/AIDS efforts — including PEPFAR — 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.
- The Trump Administration’s proposed cut of $800 million from bilateral HIV/AIDS efforts — including PEPFAR — would lead to nearly 200,000 additional new HIV infections in the first year of implementation, and nearly 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 adults (aged 15-24) in sub-Saharan Africa doubles in 2050. President Trump’s budget 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.