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U.S. Unveils 5-Year PEPFAR Strategy

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby on Tuesday “unveiled a five-year strategy for fighting AIDS worldwide, shifting the focus from emergency response to sustainable programs in countries worldwide,” Agence France-Presse reports. “We’re going to begin transitioning from an emergency response to a sustainable one through greater engagement with and capacity-building of governments,” Goosby said at a briefing.

“Goosby told reporters that the administration hopes, for example, to encourage a country’s health, education and finance ministries to take over management of the program and eventually increase funding of it,” according to the news service.

He also said that PEPFAR will focus on prevention. “We’re going to scale up highly effective prevention interventions like male circumcision, prevention of mother-to-child transmission,” Goosby said, according to AFP. “We’re going to work with countries to determine not just how many people are infected in their communities in their countries, but where the new infections are occurring,” he added (12/1).

According to the PBS’ Online NewsHour, “Goosby acknowledged the challenges of trying to treat an ever-growing epidemic … and said that is why new emphasis will be placed on prevention strategies. ‘For every two people we’ve put on treatment, five more have become infected,’ he said.”

The PEPFAR plan aims to “provide 4 million people with treatment by financial year 2014, an increase from the current treatment levels of about 2.4 million,” PBS’ Online NewsHour reports. The new strategy also emphasized the importance of integrating PEPFAR into “other health and development programs” and health system strengthening goals, the Web site writes. The article includes comments by several health experts expressing concerns that no budget was included in the strategy and that the treatment targets outlined fall short of the global need (Miller, 12/1).

According to TIME, “[m]any global health advocates worry that the success of PEPFAR – an initiative that has consistently enjoyed broad bipartisan support – may be jeopardized by harsh economic realities and shifting political priorities.” Though many health advocates support the aim of transitioning PEPFAR from emergency response to sustainable health systems capable of treating a wide range of needs of patients living with HIV, some worry “HIV/AIDS is still an emergency for many countries,” the magazine notes.

The article addresses other issues, including funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the potential effect of PEPFAR changes on recipient country treatment programs; and funding for other efforts like improving maternal and child health (Sullivan, 12/2).