April 9, 2021 | Funding the Fight


Biden’s First Budget Won’t Put the World on Track to End AIDS

Brittany Herrick (Health GAP): +1 760-964-8704| brittany@healthgap.org

Following the release of the outline of President Joseph R. Biden’s first budget, Matthew Rose, Director of U.S. Policy and Advocacy, Health GAP, said:

“After years of neglect during the Trump and Obama years, President Biden’s proposed global health budget increase of approximately $800 million for global health programs does not permit the major surge in funding for global AIDS funding through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).   

“Biden has the opportunity to be the president who saves countless lives by ending AIDS as a global public health threat, but time is running out. It will take a more significant commitment and bold leadership that brings sufficient funding, a qualified nominee to lead the response, and human rights and evidence-based policies developed in deep consultation with the most affected communities.

“The last year of unfathomable human loss and health system collapse during colliding pandemics should have taught us the importance of investing in the human right to health, including making life-saving medicines available to all people, worldwide. We know how to end AIDS, but elected leaders still lack the will to make it a reality. This is not the time to turn a blind eye to the devastating impact of underfunding the HIV response. Biden should lead a renewed global HIV response founded in justice and human rights, dedicated to ending AIDS as a global public health threat. But without sufficient funding, people will continue to suffer and needlessly die preventable deaths. Biden must consider these possibilities and choose to truly lead in this moment, not let it pass by.”

Activists are calling on Congress to pass a budget that increases PEPFAR funding at least $750 million for FY22 and $2.5 billion over the next four years to scale up HIV prevention and treatment and effectively mitigate the harms of COVID-19. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,

  • HIV testing has reduced nearly 40% compared to 2019;
  • Some countries have seen a 25% decline in the number of HIV positive pregnant women accessing services to prevent perinatal HIV transmission;
  • HIV treatment initiation has dropped by 25% across many age groups;
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) over one year fell 74% and there are similar declines in prevention for adolescent girls and young women, such as PEPFAR’s DREAMS program.

Activists are also calling on the president to name a qualified nominee to serve as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. Biden has not yet named his pick to lead PEPFAR in this crucial moment in the pandemic, a troubling sign that the administration has taken its eye off the global HIV response.