President Donald Trump released a budget plan today that would, if enacted, mean more unnecessary and avoidable deaths because of over $1 billion in deep, arbitrary cuts to the very same global AIDS programs the Trump administration has previously called smart investments. The White House’s budget calls for an approximate 17% cut to components of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in addition to deep cuts to other life-saving global health programs including those that prevent and treat tuberculosis – the leading killer of people with HIV – and family planning programs. A previous version of the Trump budget proposal indicated there would be no cuts to PEPFAR.
“The Trump administration’s first budget is a gift to billionaires at the expense of millions of people’s lives —including more than 19 million people with HIV who don’t and won’t have access to life-saving treatment if this $1 billion cut to global AIDS programs becomes reality,” said Asia Russell, Executive Director of Health Global Access Project (Health GAP). “Shame on the Trump administration for showing no regard for people’s lives and cutting highly-effective, life-saving programs to the bone.”
The White House’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget slashes $1.08 billion from global HIV programs, including:
• A 17% cut to the Global Fund, which will result in $450 million fewer dollars leveraged from other countries through the $2 to $1 matching agreement that governs the U.S. contribution;
• Bilateral PEPFAR programs were also cut by 17% overall, including:
– An approximate 10% cut to State Department HIV/AIDS funding;
– Eliminating entirely the global AIDS programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a $330 million cut;
– Cutting in half the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) global AIDS budget; and
– Eliminating all funding for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), which will stop 10 current promising candidates from progressing and halt research toward the development of a preventative HIV vaccine.
A detailed comparison of current global AIDS program funding levels and proposed levels under the Trump budget plan is available here.
“The global AIDS response has been one of the truly bipartisan success stories in American history,” said Hilary McQuie, Director of U.S. Policy and Grassroots Mobilization. “This budget turns its back on 14 years of investment to end the epidemic by 2030 – a goal that’s in reach if we commit $2 billion in additional annual funding to scale up HIV treatment. Congress should reject these cuts out of hand and fulfill the promise of a fully funded global AIDS response in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.”
More than 19 million people still do not have access to life-saving HIV treatment. PEPFAR, formed in 2003 by President George W. Bush at activists’ urging, is widely seen as one of the most effective and strategic programs the U.S. has ever undertaken. PEPFAR provides treatment to one in four people with HIV around the world and has prevented countless new infections. Combined with its investment in global health made through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the United States has a deeply rooted bipartisan commitment to global HIV treatment and prevention.
The president’s austerity budget proposal comes on the heels of the announcement that the Global Gag Rule will extend to PEPFAR and other global health programs – an unprecedented expansion of this restrictive policy that will have a chilling effect on HIV service providers. Expanding the Global Gag Rule to include PEPFAR runs counter to the administration’s stated goals on HIV. It will reduce the standard of sexual and reproductive care provided to women living with and women at risk for HIV and risks undoing years of progress on women’s health in PEPFAR countries.