Health GAP released the following statement in response to an increase of $50 million for U.S. global AIDS programs included in the FY 2019 budget that is expected to pass a vote by Congress later today:
“U.S. bilateral HIV treatment and prevention programs have been flat funded for seven years, with deadly consequences,” said Asia Russell, Executive Director of Health GAP. “Today, the U.S. Congress is poised to make the smallest of baby steps toward undoing that harm by providing a modicum of increased funding.”
“This increase is only a drop in the bucket. Last year alone, 1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses around the world. In reality, far greater investment is needed to help end the pandemic. We call on Congress first to pass this budget and then to increase PEPFAR funding by $1 billion in FY 2020 to reflect a genuine increase that would permit programs to surge forward in providing treatment and prevention, rather than running on fumes.”
“The 116th Congress is showing indications that a typical ‘we don’t have the money’ excuse just doesn’t pass muster in the face of life and death health justice issues—whether that’s health care for millions of people in the United States or HIV treatment for people living with AIDS in some of the poorest and hardest hit countries around the globe.”
“In his recent State of the Union address earlier this month, President Trump announced his commitment to defeat AIDS by 2030 in America and beyond, yet the president has proposed massive cuts to U.S. foreign aid for fighting HIV around the world in every budget proposal he has put forward so far. It’s up to Congress to lead, once again, by increasing funding even further in FY 2020 so that ending AIDS as a pandemic—a goal the science shows is entirely possible—becomes a reality.”
“Alongside full funding for PEPFAR in FY2020, Health GAP called for Congress to roll back the Global Gag Rule by endorsing the Global HER Act. The Global Gag Rule bans non-US recipients of US development assistance from using their own, non US funding sources from providing information about abortion as well as abortion services. President Trump vastly expanded this policy by incorporating all development assistance, including HIV, which has previously been excluded. Recent studies have indicated that the Global Gag Rule has resulted in significant reductions in vital services such as HIV testing in rural clinics in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya and beyond.”
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.