May 28, 2021 | Funding the Fight

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

By Flat Funding Global AIDS, Biden’s Budget Undermines Global Progress to Defeat AIDS and Weakens the COVID-19 Response

Contact:
Jessica Bassett (Health GAP): 1 518-593-7628| jessica@healthgap.org

In response to the release today of Biden’s proposed FY22 budget to Congress, Matthew Rose, Director of U.S. Policy and Advocacy at Health GAP, said:

 

“President Biden’s first detailed budget displays a lack of bold leadership motivated to end the HIV pandemic. Flat funding the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is deadly, particularly in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic when the vast majority of people with HIV in most affected countries when COVID-19 has already harmed HIV treatment and prevention programs, and most communities have no access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. If the U.S. had continued fully funding PEPFAR since 2003 instead of letting funding levels slip into a flat-line for the last 11 years, the HIV pandemic would look remarkably different today.  

 

“This is not a budget to end AIDS – and it could have been. This is not a budget to end the COVID-19 pandemic – and it could have been. The unconscionable lack of political will in recent years has created a world in which people cannot get access to the life-saving services they need. This budget doesn’t take the necessary steps to rectify those harms.

 

“This is a moment for a significant investment in the human right to health, driven by policies rooted in justice and redistribution — not charity. Until the president’s agenda reflects the investment and strategies needed to decolonize the U.S. role in global health, deadly inequities will persist as people continue to lack access to life-saving HIV treatment, prevention, and testing services, as well as COVID-19 vaccines, tests, therapeutics, and personal protective equipment.”

 

As a candidate, President Biden said he would “ensure that addressing global health threats – including current ones like HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and ones that have yet to materialize – are at the front and center of our global leadership.” His first detailed budget fails to deliver on that commitment. 

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 calling on Congress to pass a FY22 budget with at least a $750 million increase for PEPFAR and $2.5 billion in increased funding over the next four years to scale up HIV prevention and treatment and mitigate harms to the HIV response done by the COVID-19 pandemic. Activists are also urgently calling on President Biden to name a highly qualified nominee to serve as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. This is the longest it has taken any incoming administration to name a nominee to lead the U.S. global AIDS response, raising concerns that the Biden administration had taken its eye off the global HIV response at the moment the U.S. could be leading the effort to end AIDS as a global health threat by 2030.

 

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About Health GAP:  Health GAP is an international advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all people living with HIV have access to affordable life-sustaining medicines. Our team pairs pragmatic policy work with audacious grassroots action to win equitable access to treatment, care and prevention for people living with and affected by HIV worldwide. We are dedicated to eliminating barriers to universal access to affordable life-sustaining medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS as key to a comprehensive strategy to confront and ultimately stop the AIDS pandemic. We believe that the human right to life and to health must prevail over the pharmaceutical industry’s excessive profits and expanding patent rights.

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