June 17, 2008
- Over the past five years, the United States response to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis has been its single-most effective foreign-aid program focused on fighting the roots of global poverty. The $15 billion dollar commitment proposed by President Bush and passed by Congress in 2003 has saved more than 1.4 million lives; provided care for more than 6.6 million people suffering from AIDS, including 2.7 million orphans and vulnerable children; and brought counseling and testing to more than 33 million people, including 10 million pregnant women.
- Despite these successes, however, AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis are still on the rise in the developing world. Each day, more than 8,000 new HIV infections occur and more than 6,300 people die of AIDS. More than 15 million orphans in Africa are created each year. At least 16 million additional people will need access to treatment by 2013.
- The world is doing worse in its progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goal focused on HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis than it is in any of the other Goal areas. No region of the world is on track toward the target, and most are far behind or even seeing trends moving in the wrong direction.
- Contributions by rich nations to the fight against disease, of which none has been more generous than that of the United States, have been remarkably successful where they have been targeted. Their reach needs to be expanded significantly, however, which is why substantial new resources are needed over the next five years. A $50 billion commitment from the U.S. â as expressed in the bill passed by the House and currently pending in the Senate â represents a U.S. fair share (approximately 1/3, as our nation makes up 1/3 of the global economy) of whatâs needed.
- In addition to more than tripling our nationâs commitment to the global fight, the bipartisan bill pending in the Senate was carefully tailored to ensure that HIV/AIDS programs are linked to, and integrated with, other vital U.S.-backed efforts to fight global poverty and disease, and allows HIV/AIDS testing and counseling to be provided in the U.S. governmentâs international family-planning program. The bill also expands the U.S. commitment to the vital efforts of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (a multinational, cooperative effort) while establishing new benchmarks for the Fundâs transparency and accountability, and ensures a new and more pronounced emphasis on prevention and treatment for women and girls.
- The legislation also was carefully drafted to promote greater flexibility in the way U.S. HIV-prevention efforts are tailored to, and by, local communities affected by the virus. Since 2003, these programs have followed a formula known as ABC (Abstain, Be Faithful, use Condoms), but have required that at least one-third of prevention dollars be spent on programming that excludes discussion or distribution of condoms. Some local communities found this formula to be too rigid and a hindrance to their efforts to prevent HIV, so the new bill â with backing from lawmakers both who support and oppose the ABC formula â moved toward a compromise of greater flexibility and continuing congressional oversight to ensure a balanced approach to abstinence, fidelity, and condom use.
- Despite easy, bipartisan passage in the House, the Senate bill is being blocked by a group of seven members with various objections to it. While leaders from both parties are working to get an agreement to bring the bill to the floor, your voice is needed to ensure that all Senators hear about the importance, and the urgency, of this bill.