Increased Funding Critical To Scaling Up Treatment Through PEPFAR, Ending HIV/AIDS Epidemic

STAT: PEPFAR, launched as an emergency response to AIDS, has built a bridge to the future
Myron S. Cohen, architect and principal investigator of the HPTN 052 trial, professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and advisory board member for Merck and Gilead

“…Initiated as an emergency response to the global AIDS crisis, PEPFAR’s renewal every five years since 2003 has tracked the evolution of an unprecedented, multifaceted attack on a single disease. Along the way, it has provided a model of sustainable, evidence-based action against other preventable illnesses and deaths. … Through all of this, PEPFAR has maximized all possible efficiencies. It can no longer scale up treatment without cutting other key endeavors. The spread and toll of HIV remains a crisis and the need to confront it is urgent. … The House of Representatives approved the PEPFAR reauthorization on Nov. 13. I hope the Senate will swiftly follow suit. Earlier this year, the Senate proposed a $50 million increase for PEPFAR, while the House proposed an additional $41 million for USAID’s TB program. For this year’s reauthorization, increasing funding for the program will be critical. We know what to do: Diagnosing and treating everyone with HIV leads to normal life spans and stops the spread of the virus. On its own, that won’t be enough to end the threat of HIV. The quests for a vaccine and a cure continue. But the course is clear, and staying the course is imperative, with PEPFAR as a bridge to a world in which HIV no longer presents a public health threat to any population in any country” (11/28).