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AP Further Examines How PEPFAR Helped Inform New U.S. Domestic HIV/AIDS Strategy

“The national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS the Obama administration released Tuesday credits the Bush-era international campaign against AIDS for setting clear targets and ensuring a variety of agencies and groups worked together smoothly to achieve them,” the Associated Press writes in a piece that examines how PEPFAR served to inform the national strategy.

According to the AP, PEPFAR has “helped to treat more than 2 million Africans and supported 10 million more” since its launch “in 2003 in 15 countries, 12 of them African, that bear most of the world’s AIDS burden.”

The article features comments from officials with AIDS groups in South Africa, who credit PEPFAR’s success with the program’s ability to set “simple, compelling goals” and help foster relationships and collaboration between government agencies, aid groups and private companies. The groups also note the importance of reducing administrative work and coordinating efforts between U.S. agencies –like CDC, USAID, and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – as well as international governments, the World Bank and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“Catherine Connor, a top official with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation said that while the U.S. was able to create systems overseas, the challenge at home has been integrating existing private, public, regional, state and local approaches to combating AIDS and providing health care,” the news service adds (Bryson, 7/13).

In related news, VOA News reports on Global AIDS Alliance Executive Director Paul Zeitz’s assertion that President Obama has fallen short on his commitment to HIV/AIDS fighting HIV/AIDS worldwide.

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration has not kept its word in terms of the AIDS response, globally, and particularly in Africa,” Zeitz said. “President Obama made commitments during the (presidential) campaign to increase spending on global AIDS that he has not matched with his action,” he added.

According to VOA News, Zeitz also “says President Obama is not nearly as involved in the issue as his predecessors George Bush or Bill Clinton,” a characterization “[t]he State Department’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator strongly rejects … calling [it] inaccurate.”

“First, in a very tight fiscal environment, President Obama requested increases for PEPFAR in both the fiscal year 2010 and 2011 budgets, and $63 billion over six years for the Global Health Initiative, of which PEPFAR is the cornerstone,” a State Department spokesperson said in response to the criticisms of the administration. “Second, the Administration has not only released a comprehensive document outlining the Global Health Initiative, with specific targets for preventing maternal-child HIV transmissions, but also a comprehensive PEPFAR five-year strategy,” the spokesperson said (DeCapua, 7/13).