Though U.S. Commitment to an "AIDS-Free Generation" Was Repeated
Throughout the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C. over
This Past Week, There Is Little Promise of Action Going Forward
On the Heels of News That Treating All Who Are HIV-Positive Is
Cost-Effective, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the Largest Global
AIDS Organization, Calls for New PEPFAR and ADAP Funding; "A Prudent
Public Health Strategy That Will Save Lives, as Well as Money as New HIV
Infections Are Averted," said AHF President Michael Weinstein
With the week-long XIX International AIDS Conference wrapping up in
Washington D.C. today AIDS
Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urged world leaders,
including the Obama Administration, to follow up on the optimism coming
out of the conference with action.
A key piece of news to come out of the conference was a study done by
Dr. Rochelle Walensky of Harvard University and her colleagues that
demonstrated that universal treatment of all those who are HIV-positive
ranks as very cost-effective. After conducting the analysis,
representatives from The HIV Prevention Trials Network were surprised to
find that universal treatment was cost saving over the first five
years. "It's really hard to find health interventions that save money,"
Walensky says. "So we were really excited."
"The study that showed the cost-effectiveness of universal treatment is
some of the most important news to come out of this year's conference.
However, the commitment by world leaders?the U.S. included?is still in
question," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare
Foundation, which provides free HIV/AIDS medical care to over 176,000
people in the U.S. and 25 other countries abroad. "The D.C. conference
was a chance for the Obama administration to reverse course and truly
demonstrate the willingness of the U.S. to ?keep the promise' on
HIV/AIDS. Though there was some funding offered by the administration,
it did not come close to what the President has already proposed cutting
from the global AIDS budget. And, the fact that the National AIDS
Strategy blueprint is not expected until December 1st?after
the election, which may make it irrelevant?does not show a great urgency
in dealing with the domestic epidemic either."
Added Weinstein: "In light of new evidence regarding the
cost-effectiveness of universal treatment, AHF calls for new funding for
the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief as well as for the U.S.
AIDS Drug Assistance Program?a prudent, fiscally-responsible public
health strategy that will save lives, as well as money as new HIV
infections are averted."
The conference, which takes place every two years, is a gathering of
over 20,000 leading AIDS scientists, researchers, medical providers,
patients and advocates from around the world. The conference, which is
being held in the United States for the first time in more than 20
years, will feature presentations of important new scientific research
and opportunities for dialogue on the major challenges facing the global
response to AIDS.
There are currently waiting lists of nearly 2,000 patients waiting for
access to the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP), the network of
programs that provide AIDS drugs to low-income Americans living with
HIV/AIDS. In addition, the administration is seeking to cut its funding
in the global AIDS fight?the first time an American president has ever
taken such a step.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration, which?in a shocking
repudiation of nearly thirty years of progress against the global AIDS
pandemic?unveiled a global AIDS budget that took the unprecedented step
of reducing AIDS funding by approximately $214 million in fiscal year
2013. Never before has a president sought to actually reduce America's
commitment to fighting the AIDS epidemic globally.
In Fiscal Year 2012, the federal funding for global AIDS is $6.63
billion. President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget proposes spending
$6.42 billion. In human terms, this difference represents 640,000 people
with HIV/AIDS that could receive lifesaving AIDS treatment for one year.
The proposed budget came shortly after, and is directly at odds with,
the President's December 2011 announced goals of putting 2 million more
people (50% more than the current number of approximately 4 million) on
treatment by the end of 2013, and of creating an "AIDS free generation."
"Actions speak louder than words," added AHF's Weinstein. "Defunding
PEPFAR and ignoring ADAP waiting lists merely confirm what people with
HIV/AIDS and their advocates have long suspected?that the President is
not seriously committed to fighting AIDS. And, despite the affirmations
to come out of the conference?that we have the tools to end AIDS---we
are still left with the question: Do we have the will?"
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more
than 176,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa,
Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To
learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.