Support Of PEPFAR As Important Now As It Was 10 Years Ago
“Ten years ago this May, when the AIDS pandemic was at its worst, ravaging many African countries and a sure death sentence for millions, our country responded in an unprecedented way,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) write in an opinion piece in The Hill. “[I]n 2003, then-President George W. Bush instated PEPFAR, … pledging $15 billion over five years to combat the spread of HIV, prevent further infections and improve access to care for millions of people across the globe,” they continue. “Each year since then, Congress, with bipartisan support, has stood behind the program, providing critical funding to enable PEPFAR to truly help change the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic,” they note, adding, “Now, a decade later, PEPFAR’s success isn’t just measured in dollars spent, but in lives saved and communities improved.”
“PEPFAR has directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for nearly 5.1 million men, women and children around the world, and is helping prevent hundreds of thousands of mother-to-child transmissions, an essential step toward achieving an AIDS-free generation,” Lee and Frist write. However, “we are at a tipping point to truly realize this vision,” they continue, adding, “If we back away now, the gains we’ve made will evaporate; the success we’ve had will disappear. Support of PEPFAR now is as important as it was 10 years ago.” They conclude, “Democrats and Republicans should be proud of PEPFAR’s legacy and continue to support it moving forward, providing the program with the robust funding it still needs to help achieve an AIDS-free generation” (5/28).