This week, the world commemorates World AIDS Day, a remembrance of the 25 million people who have lost their lives to the pandemic since 1981, and an occasion to recommit to advocacy for a world without AIDS. In her message for Word AIDS Day, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori reminded Episcopalians of new challenges both in addressing HIV/AIDS in our own nation and in poor countries around the world, where more than 3 million people die each year from the pandemic. Noting that the global-economic crisis is pushing millions more people below the deadly poverty line in developing countries, the Presiding Bishop expressed concern that "President Obama's first federal budget, released earlier this year, failed to keep pace with [past U.S.] financial commitments to fighting AIDS abroad.
"Americans must send a clear message to the Administration that in spite of economic challenges at home, our nation cannot retreat from our commitments to fight poverty and disease abroad." To Read the Presiding Bishop's full statement, click here.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: The success or failure of U.S. efforts to fight AIDS abroad will depend, more than any other factor, on our nation's willingness to keep the promises it has made in fully funding these programs. This week, the Obama Administration released a new five-year strategy for fighting HIV/AIDS abroad. This strategy includes many welcome initiatives – particularly a new focus on building sustainable health systems in poor countries – but it can only succeed if programs are fully funded at the levels to which our nation has committed in the past.
In early 2010, President Obama will send a budget proposal to Congress for FY 2011. As the Presiding Bishop notes, it is vital that we send a message to the White House requesting that America keep its promises to fully fund the fight against this deadly pandemic. Click here to send a message with excerpts of the Presiding Bishop's statement to President Obama.