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GHI Won’t Compromise PEPFAR, Global AIDS Coordinator Says At House Foreign Affairs’ Committee Hearing

During a House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ hearing on the future of PEPFAR Wednesday, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby assured lawmakers that the decision by President Barack Obama to make PEPFAR part of the president’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) would not compromise “the widely praised plan,” CQ HealthBeat reports.

“As PEPFAR now moves from an emergency to a sustainable response as part of the president’s Global Health Initiative, make no mistake: we will maintain and support expansion of these core prevention, care and treatment services that are at the heart of the program,” Goosby said.

Acknowledging the criticisms expressed by some groups that the GHI “would ‘diffuse the focus’ of PEPFAR and limit its effectiveness,” Goosby proposed the GHI, instead, would complement the aims of PEPFAR. “I firmly believe the approach the Global Health Initiative implements is critical to the future success of PEPFAR,” he told the committee, noting the focus of the initiative on integrating health programs. “The Global Health Initiative includes the goals of direct support of AIDS treatment for 4 million people, prevention of at least 12 million new infections and care and support for at least 12 million people, he said,” according to the news service.

The article includes comments by Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), who spoke of recent gains in efforts to expand global access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who highlighted the importance of developing new strategies to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. “The stark reality, said Fauci ‘is that we will not be able to contain the HIV/AIDS pandemic by treatment alone,'” CQ HealthBeat reports.

Meanwhile, “Rep. Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, the top Republican on the panel, expressed concern that PEPFAR would be implemented as part of the Global Health Initiative without action by Congress,” the news service adds. “Smith said that he would ‘strongly argue that such a change requires legislative authorization given the amount of taxpayer money and important policy issues at stake.'” Additionally, Smith, who CQ HealthBeat writes is “an opponent of abortion,” expressed concerns about how the GHI would integrate HIV/AIDS programs with family planning initiatives (Norman, 9/29).

VOA News includes comments made by CDC Director Thomas Frieden during the hearing, where he discussed the need to “scale up [HIV/AIDS] treatment sustainably and cost effectively to reach even more people” and the “need to take prevention to the next level.” The article also includes quotes by Berman, Fauci and Smith (Ferdinando, 9/29).

A webcast of the hearing, which also includes testimony from Paula Akugizibwe of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa and Wafaa El-Sadr of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, is available on the Committee on Foreign Affairs website (9/29).