WASHINGTON — Ahead of World AIDS Day (Saturday, December 1st), The ONE Campaign is sounding the alarm that AIDS is not a disease of the past, it’s a crisis that currently claims more than 2,500 lives every day. Because the fight against AIDS is off-track, and we are unlikely to reach many of the targets for treatment and prevention that experts set for 2020, President Donald Trump and lawmakers should recommit to increasing the number of people who can get the treatment they need to survive.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump said America was “going to lead the way” in the AIDS fight, and committed to doubling the number of people on treatment by the year 2020. At another event, he also said America’s current level of investment in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — contributing one-third of the total raised by the Fund — “sounds good” and that it’s “the kind of thing we should be doing.” But instead of fulfilling President Trump’s campaign commitment, his White House has twice proposed massive cuts to the global AIDS response.
The Global Fund, which is set to be replenished next year, has been one of the most effective and efficient health organizations on the planet, and one of the world’s strongest tools in the fight against AIDS. Last month, a bipartisan group of 18 senators wrote a letter to Secretary Pompeo asking him to support a three-year pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) for 2020-2022 that exceeds the last Replenishment.
Tom Hart, North America executive director at The ONE Campaign, said:
“AIDS is not a disease of the past, it’s a crisis now, and if we don’t move faster than the virus, then it will win. Despite the jaw-dropping daily death toll and truly alarming infection rates among girls and young women in Africa, Congress has held just one hearing on AIDS in the past six years. The Trump Administration has now twice proposed massive budget cuts. Complacency today equals complicity tomorrow.
“President Trump has the opportunity to be the president who gets the AIDS fight back on track, but that won’t be possible if his White House keeps trying to cut funding for it. Right now, the administration is deciding its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2020. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should ensure that his budget proposal is consistent with President Trump’s campaign commitment and continues funding the Global Fund at one-third of its total. Requesting full funding for the Global Fund in the President’s budget is the best way to send a strong signal to other donors and ensure that other countries do their share.
“When Melania Trump visited Africa this fall, she got an up close view of how America’s leadership and generosity in the fight against global poverty and disease has saved lives and brought hope to millions. When the First Lady returned from Africa, she echoed the calls of many in the development community by — in the President’s words — telling him: ‘I hope you’re going to continue to give a lot of money because they need it.’ Even President Trump acknowledged that the First Lady’s trip ‘made a big impact’ on him. As we race against the clock, millions of people are counting on it.”
FACTS ABOUT THE HIV/AIDS CRISIS
- Nearly 7,000 young women are infected with HIV every week.
- 37 million people are living with HIV today, and more than 15 million of them can’t get life-saving treatment.
- Only half of children with HIV can access life-saving treatment.
- The global fight against AIDS is off-track, and we are unlikely to reach many of the targets for treatment and prevention that experts had set for 2020.
- The world is also investing 20 percent less than what’s needed to end the epidemic by 2030.
- On the current trajectory, by 2050, when the population of those in sub-Saharan Africa most vulnerable to AIDS has doubled, the epidemic will have spread beyond our ability to stop it.