AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today applauds the U.S. Senate for its unanimous approval Wednesday, November 28th of legislation reauthorizing the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (S. 3476). The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the same measure, H.R. 6651, on November 13. The bill is now headed to the U.S. President’s desk, which he is expected to sign and which will extend congressional authorization for another five years through 2024.
PEPFAR is the U.S. government’s program to address the HIV epidemic outside the United States. Proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush, it was established in 2003 by an act of Congress. Since its beginning, it has saved 18.9 million lives; put 14.6 million people living with HIV on lifesaving treatment; supported 2.4 million babies born HIV free to HIV positive mothers; provided voluntary medical male circumcision to 18.9 million and supported HIV testing services for 95 million people. It is the biggest single disease-specific global health initiative in history.
“Since its inception, PEPFAR has enjoyed the strong support of three U.S. presidents and eight U.S. congresses, which appropriated $80 billion for the program over 15 years,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AHF. “This rare bipartisan congressional action sends a clear message to the world that AIDS isn’t over. Over 20 million people living with HIV still have no access to lifesaving treatment. Nearly one million people die from AIDS every year and there still are over one-and-a-half million new infections every year. As we mark the thirtieth observation of World AIDS Day later this week, we call on the president to swiftly sign this bill and fully fund PEPFAR at $5.5 billion for fiscal year 2020.”