FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2023
Contact: Jessica Bassett, firstname.lastname@example.org, 929-866-3929
The State of the Biden Administration’s Response to Global AIDS:
Twenty Years after Bush’s Historic SOTU Launch of PEPFAR, Biden Must Fulfill His Promise to End AIDS in Tonight’s State of the Union
Ahead of tonight’s State of the Union Address by President Biden, where he is expected to acknowledge the 20th anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with AIDS activist and rock star Bono attending as a guest of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden rather than honoring the leadership of a Black, HIV positive activist on national Black HIV awareness day, AIDS activists released a critique of the Biden administration’s mid-term record on global AIDS and a list of priorities the President should pursue to demonstrate commitment to his campaign promise to defeat HIV.
Asia Russell, Executive Director of the Health Global Access Project (Health GAP), said:
“Twenty years ago, George W. Bush delivered a State of the Union creating PEPFAR in response to massive mobilization led by people living with HIV from sub-Saharan Africa and around the world who were being denied access to life-saving HIV treatment. Two decades later, despite game-changing scientific advances that should make AIDS deaths and new HIV infections a thing of the past, the AIDS response is dangerously off track.
“President Biden made a campaign pledge to defeat HIV and protect us from future pandemics. He has broken this promise. Under President Biden’s watch, the pace of HIV treatment scale-up in PEPFAR countries has slowed. PEPFAR has been flat-funded for more than a decade, forcing programs to ration prevention and treatment. Attacks in PEPFAR-supported countries are on the rise targeting sex workers, LGBTQ+ people, and people who use drugs–communities at far greater risk of HIV acquisition and AIDS-related death because of criminalization, discrimination, and bigotry. Fragile progress is being undermined as underfunded HIV programs have been expected to respond to COVID-19, Mpox, Ebola, and cholera. Without additional funding, health workers, or lab capacity, this has resulted in the diversion of HIV investments to other diseases, robbing Peter to pay Paul instead of scaling up health justice for all.
“Bush announced a path in 2003 to combat AIDS during his State of the Union. Bush’s ambition–secured only thanks to the leadership of HIV-positive people–stands in sharp contrast to Biden’s lack of ambition and broken promises.
“Tonight, Biden should keep his promise to the world and commit to fighting for $750 million in PEPFAR funding increases, a bold new PEPFAR initiative to defend the rights and freedoms of marginalized groups, and a commitment to break the stranglehold of drug company monopolies that still obstruct the rapid roll-out of game-changing treatment and prevention technologies for HIV–with dangerous replication COVID-19 and other pandemics.
“It’s not enough for President Biden to celebrate 20 years of leadership against AIDS. He must also show his own.”
Tonight, President Biden should announce: