I am writing today as a constituent of yours who is greatly concerned with the impact that budget cuts in Congress may have on the health of millions of people around the world. US funding through PEPFAR and support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have had a major impact on the level of suffering and deaths across the developing world, and should receive continued...
I am writing today as a constituent of yours who is greatly concerned with the impact that budget cuts in Congress may have on the health of millions of people around the world. US funding through PEPFAR and support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have had a major impact on the level of suffering and deaths across the developing world, and should receive continued support from our taxpayer dollars.
This year marks 30 years since the discovery of AIDS, an illness that has claimed 30 million lives to date. At the same time, this year also marks one of great promise for global HIV/AIDS: research supported by the US National Institutes of Health definitively has shown that someone on timely HIV treatment is 96% less likely to pass the virus on to others. This means that HIV treatment itself is a form of prevention, and that scaling up treatment to the millions of people who need it may be the best way to turn the tide on the epidemic.
Today, 6.6 million people are on HIV treatment, thanks to government support of global HIV programs and the Global Fund. In order to reach those still in need and get ahead of the wave of new infections, treatment must be scaled up at a much faster pace. The US government financial support must keep pace as well with the disease and also with promises it has made to usher in an ‘AIDS-free generation’ and nearly double the pace of scale-up of life saving HIV treatment in poor countries.
Not only through its PEPFAR program, but also through its contributions to the Global Fund, US taxpayer money has saved millions of lives. And because HIV treatment is also HIV prevention, we know that it has also helped avert millions more infections.
And support to the Global Fund also allows for needed scale-up of tuberculosis treatment, where particularly lethal drug-resistant forms of the disease are wreaking havoc in many countries, but especially in those hit hard by HIV/AIDS. It also pays for critical interventions to prevent malaria, and for better treatments that are known to save more lives. This disease kills nearly 1 million lives every year.
But we have reached a crossroads with HIV/AIDS and global health – if we push forward, we can reap the benefits of scientific advances and save more lives, while preventing illness. But if we let up now, we could cancel out the critical advances that have been made over the past decade since the Global Fund was first launched.
I urge you not to cut the US contribution to global health in the current deliberations over next year's budget in Congress. Congress should approve the original White House budget request for $7.2 billion for PEPFAR and the GFATM so that PEPFAR is fully funded to meet the President’s promise of reaching at least a million more people on HIV treatment in 2012 and that the US pledge to the GFATM of $1.3 billion in 2012 is fulfilled.
Too many lives are at stake.