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Potential Cuts To Global Health Spending Threaten Vision Of ‘AIDS-Free Generation’

The vision of an “AIDS-free generation” presented in a speech earlier this month by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “is under threat in Congress,” as “[t]he House and the Senate are discussing significant cuts to the 2012 Obama administration request for global health funding,” Jeanie Yoon, a physician with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), writes in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece. Yoon describes an MSF program in Zambia working to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), saying such programs “provide an opportunity for mothers be tested for HIV (as well as other dangerous conditions for pregnant women) and to take the steps needed for them and their babies to live healthy lives; as well as for communities to gain productive members instead of incurring yet more losses.”

“According to the American Foundation for AIDS Research, a modest five percent cut in the U.S. foreign aid budget would mean 69,000 fewer HIV-positive women will receive PMTCT services worldwide,” she writes. “Although [Zambia] still has a ways to go to live up to its commitment to make treatment available to everyone, it has made significant strides in the fight against AIDS — in large part because of funds from” PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Yoon continues, concluding, “If Congress votes to sacrifice that progress, Zambia and Africa will lose many women …, who, given the resources, will do everything in their power to give their children healthy lives. Those resources are not the kind you cut — they are the difference between life and death” (11/21).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.