Lancet Examines Obama’s Pledge To Fight HIV/AIDS

The journal Lancet Infectious Diseases examines whether President Obama is fulfilling his campaign promises to tackle HIV/AIDS abroad and at home. Although Obama has surrounded himself “[w]ith lauded experts … concerns have been raised by activists that investment plans are not matching up to the rhetoric,” Lancet writes.

One such expert is Eric Goosby – the newly confirmed U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator –who, during his senate confirmation hearing spoke of the principles that would guide his work as head of PEPFAR, but “funding was not a key matter discussed,” according to the Lancet. The article examines Obama’s shift from “[o]riginal funding pledges for PEPFAR of $50 billion over 5 years … to a proposed $51 billion over 6 years, with an extra $12 billion for other global health issues such as maternal and child health, family planning, and neglected tropical disease” – an initiative that the White House sees as “a more integrated approach to fighting diseases, improving health, and strengthening health systems,” but others worry it might impact “treatment and prevention of vertical transmission.”

The article concludes: “The Global AIDS Alliance says that ‘Goosby has a unique opportunity to hold the Obama administration accountable for its campaign promises to increase funding for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS overseas’. However, Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, says ‘it is crucial that President Obama ensures that Dr. Goosby has the capability and full support of the administration to effectively lead this landmark lifesaving global AIDS programme, and that we do not squander the steady progress that PEPFAR has already made in the global fight against AIDS'” (Morris, Lancet Infectious Disease, 7/09).