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ASOs Praise Senate’s Reauthorization of PEPFAR

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Nov 26, 2013

On Nov. 19, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act, extending the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for another five years. Across the country, AIDS Service Organizations were thrilled at their commitment.

"PEPFAR is the most successful global health program in history," said Kevin Robert Frost, amfAR's CEO. "Reauthorization of PEPFAR renews the U.S. commitment to deliver life-saving prevention and treatment services in the countries most heavily affected by HIV."

The U.S. is the leading provider of international HIV assistance, accounting for 49 percent of all international HIV funding in 2012. PEPFAR supports antiretroviral treatment for over five million people and in 2012 alone prevented 230,000 children from acquiring HIV. PEPFAR funds are money well spent, as studies have consistently found that spending on HIV treatment generates both short- and long-term cost savings by substantially delaying or averting altogether the intensive costs associated with medical treatment of late-stage HIV disease. Funding PEPFAR through 2018 also gives other countries a clear message about the U.S. commitment to ending the epidemic.

"The unanimous vote by the House of Representatives demonstrates that support for American leadership in the fight against AIDS cuts across political boundaries," said Chris Collins, amfAR's vice president and Director of Public Policy. "This legislation introduces important reporting requirements that will strengthen PEPFAR's work and assist policy makers in accelerating progress on global AIDS."

Jason Cianciotto, GMHC’s Director of Public Policy, also applauded New York Congressman Eliot Engel for his steadfast support of people living with HIV/AIDS and his sponsorship of PEPFAR’s companion bill in the House. But Congress must not forget its obligation here at home, he said.

The sequester and other federal funding cuts have deeply affected life-saving HIV prevention and treatments programs around the country. Advocates say that Congress must pass an FY14 budget that eliminates the sequester and funds federal HIV/AIDS programs at the levels requested in the President’s budget.

"We also ask Congress to pass pending legislation that will help bring us close to an AIDS free generation," added Cianciotto. "These bills include the Stop AIDS in Prison Act, the Justice for the Unprotected against Sexually Transmitted Infections among the Confined and Exposed (JUSTICE) Act, and the Communities United with Religious leaders for the Elimination of HIV/AIDS Act. These Acts would ensure that those most at risk for HIV, including those who are incarcerated and people of color, have access to prevention, care and services."

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Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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