Legislation impacting HIV/AIDS education, prevention programs, treatment, and funding.
HIV/AIDS has devastated the economic and social fabric of Africa, taxing already poverty-stricken health systems, robbing countries of their most productive members and leaving more than 10 million AIDS orphans on the continent. Worldwide, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 20 million people. There are several pieces of legislation focusing on prevention, health workers, and funding.
The Presidents Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief was a five-year $15 billion initiative to combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic announced by President Bush in 2003. PEPFAR provides funding for three aspects of the AIDS epidemic: prevention of new transmissions, treatment of current cases, and care for orphans whose parents died of AIDS; it has a special focus on 15 countries in Africa and the Caribbean. In Fiscal Year 2007, the United States appropriated $4.6 billion to PEPFAR.
In 2008, President Bush signed into law the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, which reauthorized PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. New goals of PEPFAR included preventing 12 million new infections, treating 3 million people living with AIDS and caring for 12 million people, including 5 million orphans and vulnerable people. The bipartisan bill pledged $48 billion over five years for U.S. Global AIDS programs – triple the amount authorized in the initial bill. $34.5 billion of this amount will go specifically to fighting HIV/AIDS.
Though the increased funding levels were applauded by the RAC and other advocates, the bill had major shortcomings. While the provision requiring one third of the funding to go to abstinence-only programs was removed, a new "reporting requirement" was inserted which mandates that any country spending less than 50% of prevention money on abstinence and behavior change programs needed to explain directly to Congress their reasons. Naturally, this is a major detractor for any country wishing to use more than 50% on non-prevention, comprehensive and evidence-based programs, which have consistently proven more effective in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Unfortunately, despite high hopes from advocates, President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget essentially flat lined funding for HIV/AIDS prevention. The United States’ contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was well under 50% of its “fair share contribution,” and funding for PEPFAR was not at a level that would meet the goals set out for the program during the 2008 reauthorization. Advocates are now focusing on making improvements for Fiscal Year 2011.