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U.S. Should Continue To Demonstrate Leadership, Provide Financial Commitments To End AIDS

The Hill: World AIDS Day — let’s work with urgency to battle this disease
Bill Frist, former Republican Senate majority leader from Tennessee, cardiothoracic surgeon, and founder of Hope Through Healing Hands; and Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS and under secretary general of the U.N.

“…[I]f the U.S. — the nation that has demonstrated the greatest leadership and commitment of resources in the fight against AIDS — reduces its investment at the precise moment when efforts need intensifying, it sends the message that America is not committed to the global effort to defeat the AIDS epidemic. PEPFAR must be fully funded; U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria must be maintained. Failure to fully fund these programs could stall our momentum and result in deadly consequences. … It is an especially critical time to invest robustly in research, to plan ahead for the dissemination of these exciting new tools, and to find ways to get the best options for prevention and care to the greatest number of people at the lowest cost. PEPFAR was created in a moment when little was known about how to stop the AIDS epidemic. Today, we know what to do, how to do it, and where it needs to be done. We have the medicine, the prevention tools, and the international cooperation required to tackle this global health challenge. All that stands now between the possibility and the reality of ending AIDS is the determination of today’s leaders” (12/1).

Devex: Opinion: We started PEPFAR. Politicizing AIDS would be a disaster.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Bill Frist, former Republican Senate majority leader from Tennessee, cardiothoracic surgeon, and founder of Hope Through Healing Hands

“…[T]he PEPFAR model has become the gold standard for addressing large-scale epidemics. PEPFAR’s impact extends far beyond immediate improvements in public health. … And its impact is substantial and visible. … Yet challenges remain. … While PEPFAR is working, we need to expand our commitment to prevent new infections. … The United Nations believes that we can see an AIDS-free generation by the year 2030. But only if we invest in the programs that work abroad — such as PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — and here at home, such as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and the Minority AIDS Initiative. Once again, progress will require the same allegiance to policy — not politics — that launched PEPFAR in the first place. If these programs become a partisan football, the most vulnerable people in the world will pay the price. We are sounding the alarm, before our progress is further undermined by hardline ideology or political infighting. This World AIDS Day, we’re asking our colleagues and friends to think of the lives we’re trying to save — not the political parties to which we belong. That’s how we will end AIDS” (12/1).

Washington Post: Trump wants to gut America’s progress against AIDS
Michael Gerson, columnist

“…The Trump administration is proposing a reduction in funding and a shift in strategy in the fight against global AIDS that together would increase infections, cost lives, and threaten the extraordinary progress of the past 15 years. … During the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, the strategy on AIDS was pretty consistent: Put as many people on treatment as possible. Use economies within the program, and falling drug prices, to increase that number even further. Focus on the places and groups where transmission is highest, but act broadly enough to block transmission routes across the continent. For the first time since early in the American AIDS response, a fundamental change in approach is being debated. In its 2018 budget, the Trump administration proposes an [$860 million] cut in America’s bilateral HIV/AIDS programs (along with a $225 million cut for the Global Fund). The State Department, in turn, has written a new AIDS strategy to reflect this lower level of funding. Resources would be concentrated on 13 ‘priority’ countries, while current levels of treatment would be maintained in other places. … Does Trump really want to be known for undermining an effort he praised during his campaign, as well as in his recent U.N. General Assembly speech? … There is only one AIDS strategy adequate to controlling this disease: full funding, and full speed ahead” (11/30).

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