Health GAP released the following reaction to the announcement made yesterday by Vice President Pence of a new initiative funding faith-based organizations with $100 million through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR):
“This announcement comes with no new funding—PEPFAR has been flat funded for 7 years, and deadly funding gaps and harmful, anti-evidence policies are already undermining the global AIDS response. How could this translate to program scale-up that saves lives and defends human rights, instead of robbing Peter to pay Paul? It risks diverting money from much more effective and evidence-based community programming.
“Alarm bells should be going off,” said Asia Russell, Executive Director of Health GAP. “At their best, faith-based organizations provide trusted and cutting edge HIV prevention and treatment services, loudly reject discrimination, transphobia and homophobia, and embrace the rights of all genders, all sexual orientations, and all ages—including those criminalized and shunned by society.
But too often, religious organizations are sites of HIV discrimination, misinformation, and HIV prevention programs that defy science and human rights—the very factors that fuel new HIV infections, increase vulnerability and accelerate disease progression by driving communities from life-saving services.”
Health GAP has called on Congress to pass the $50 million increase for PEPFAR agreed to by the Senate for FY19. While only a first step, this break from flat funding of U.S. global HIV programs, if approved, will save hundreds of thousands of lives.
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.