March 1, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
As representatives of organizations that advocate for an evidence-based and robust response to global AIDS, we respond to your fiscal year 2013 budget request for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—the flagship bilateral AIDS program—with shock and dismay. A proposed reduction of more than 10 percent to this lifesaving program is completely inconsistent with your bold leadership statement on World AIDS Day, with its commitment to scale up HIV treatment to an additional two million people by 2013 and prevention of mother to child transmission interventions for an addition 1.5 million pregnant women, to move forward to realize the goal of an AIDS-free generation. A $546 million proposed reduction in the PEPFAR budget will clearly translate into lives lost, scores of preventable infections, and services denied to orphans and vulnerable children.
We were gratified by and strongly support the Administration’s budget request of $1.65 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. This request demonstrates that the U.S. commitment to its pledge of $4 billion over 3 years is a serious one, and it is indisputable that a well-financed Global Fund is essential to the AIDS response and a lifeline for tuberculosis and malaria programs. But we must and we do strongly object to the apparent shoring up of the Global Fund budget request at the expense of the PEPFAR program. These two programs are synergistic and often provide complementary services to the same communities. Moreover, the unmet need is great and profound, measurable in millions of lives that will be lost in the next five years without access to lifesaving medications, and millions more who will be infected without access to effective prevention interventions. We need both programs and the investments of the most affected countries and other bilateral donors to begin to end AIDS. Given the massive global funding gap in the fight against HIV, and the millions without access to treatment, prevention, and care, it is clear that cuts to bilateral programs would keep us from achieving the goal you set forth on December 1st of “ending the AIDS pandemic once and for all.”
Since the fiscal year 2013 budget was released, Administration spokespeople have offered assurances that the goals you articulated on World AIDS Day are achievable despite the proposed large budget cut. How can this be and what message does this send to Congress about the value and efficiency of the PEPFAR program? We would respectfully suggest that if this is accurate, the $546 million you propose to cut from this program be directed to expand access to HIV treatment and prevention services to several million more of the individuals and families still in need worldwide.
Mr. President, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to stand firm on the budget request for the Global Fund and abandon the call for cuts in PEPFAR so that we can continue to scale up access to antiretroviral therapy and other interventions identified through U.S. scientific ingenuity and leadership.
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
Children’s AIDS Fund
HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA)
Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)
Treatment Action Group (TAG)