Friday, February 17, 2012

Obama Decimating Global AIDS Funding, Undercutting Bush's AIDS initiative

From the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF):
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today criticized the Obama administration, which—in a shocking repudiation of nearly thirty years of progress against the global AIDS pandemic—last Monday unveiled a global AIDS budget that takes 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 comes 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.”

“This latest action merely confirms what people with HIV/AIDS and their advocates have long suspected – the President simply is not committed to fighting global AIDS. Coming on the heels of the President’s flowery rhetoric last December, the cynicism is simply breathtaking,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which provides free HIV/AIDS medical care to over 125,000 people in 26 countries abroad.

Since the creation of the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) under President George W. Bush in 2003, the U.S.’s commitment to global AIDS has grown quickly from less than $1 billion to today’s present levels, and the results have been nothing short of miraculous. In combating a disease that affects over 33 million, U.S. generosity today helps provide treatment for over 3.9 people with HIV/AIDS worldwide, preventing premature deaths and has helped prevent millions of new HIV infections.

However, further funding increases have stalled under President Obama, despite Congressional approval for increased spending – which approval then-Senator Obama also supported. Now, as President, Obama is taking action to reduce America’s commitment.

Most damaging, the proposed budget slashes PEPFAR – the U.S.’s program for directly funding AIDS treatment, care, and prevention in the countries hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic – by $546 million...

“With this one stroke, the President seeks to gut the most successful foreign aid program since the Marshall Plan,” continued Weinstein... "Without increasing funding to levels already authorized by Congress, just holding steady against the epidemic, let alone achieving an ‘AIDS-free generation,’ is simply empty rhetoric.”
Related Video: "Obama undercuts Bush's AIDS initiative, offers disingenuous response to AIDS activists, Hecklers"

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