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International AIDS Funding vs. Domestic Funding; The POTUS Must Act NOW!

By Kevin Maloney

September 25, 2011

When PEPFAR was enacted in 2003 under George W Bush we were then talking about funding cuts and ADAP wait-lists. Today, the story is unchanged; in fact the AIDS crisis in America hasn't been as dire since the epidemic began 30 years ago. How is it that we can spend BILLIONS in US taxpayer dollars on overseas initiatives under PEPFAR, but cannot find 100 million to alleviate the current ADAP crisis in the United States? American citizens have fallen by the wayside of this administration's handling of our domestic AIDS crisis.

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The outcries from numerous organizations, PLWHA, their friends, family and loved ones have begun to grow into one voice, one movement, with one goal. That purpose is to bring awareness to the AIDS crisis in America with an end goal of ENDING the AIDS crisis now! When will the POTUS and other leaders in Washington recognize the problem and finally ACT on it in substantial and meaningful way?!? The crisis is not going away, and neither are HIV/AIDS advocates!

So, what is PEPFAR?

Launched in 2003 by President George W. Bush with strong bipartisan support, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is America's commitment to fighting the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. Through shared responsibility and smart investments, PEPFAR is saving lives, building more secure families and helping to stabilize fragile nations.

How is PEPFAR funded?

With the generous support of the American people (through taxpayer dollars), the U.S. Government has committed nearly $46 billion to bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and bilateral TB programs through fiscal year (FY) 2012.

PEPFAR's success is measured in lives improved and saved.

  • In fiscal year 2010, PEPFAR directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 3.2 million men, women and children worldwide, up from less than 2.5 million in 2009.
  • PEPFAR directly supported antiretroviral prophylaxis to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission for more than 600,000 HIV-positive pregnant women in fiscal year 2010, allowing more than 114,000 infants to be born HIV-free.
  • Through its partnerships with more than 30 countries, PEPFAR directly supported 11 million people with care and support, including nearly 3.8 million orphans and vulnerable children, in fiscal year 2010 alone.

PEPFAR is making smart investments to improve lives, build more secure families and help stabilize fragile nations. With continued support from the U.S. Congress, PEPFAR will be able continuing working towards the goals of treating more than 4 million people, preventing more than 12 million new HIV infections, and caring for more than 12 million people, including 5 million orphans and vulnerable children.

  • For FY 2011, President Obama has requested nearly $7.0 billion, including nearly $5.74 billion for bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, $1 billion for the Global Fund, and $251 million for bilateral TB programs.
  • For FY 2012, the President is requesting nearly $7.2 billion, including nearly $5.6 billion for bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, $1.3 billion for the Global Fund, and $254 million for bilateral TB programs.

While international efforts are laudable, and ROI huge, domestic funding for HIV/AIDS services and supports are severely underfunded. If the POTUS does not act then I fear a flashback to the 80's; people dying. This time not because we have no medicine to treat the disease, but because we have no funding. This is unconscionable, and leaves me questioning, is this America? Is this the American way?

"PEPFAR is an unfit parent who feeds her neighbors as her own family goes hungry".

Through FY2012 under PEPFAR we will have spent 46 billion in taxpayer dollars. We could have been funneling that money over the past 9 years into domestic AIDS initiatives such as treatment, prevention, research, and other services for PLWHA under the Ryan White Program.

Appropriations under the Ryan White Program for the United States for FY2012 equate to 1.3 billion, and AIDS advocates are asking for an increase of $106 million just to maintain ADAP; though this would not be enough to end the ADAP wait-lists. An increase of $360 million is needed to maintain ADAP programs and fill the structural deficits that have built up over the last several years. Is 7.2 billion in taxpayer money appropriated under PEPFAR and 1.3 under the Ryan White program fair? I think not, taxpayers and especially American PLWHA should be outraged.

Further egregious, last week in an effort by 18 Senators led by New York Junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, they seeks to immunize the Global AIDS funding from cuts threatened by the impending showdown over the national budget and deficit committee. The letter is signed by Kirsten Gillibrand, Richard Durbin (D-NY), Barbara Milkulski (D-MD), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden D-OR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Christopher Coons (D-DE).

I ask these individuals; do you know this is the 30th year of the AIDS epidemic in America? Are you aware of the domestic AIDS crisis funding cuts, and impending ones? Are you aware of the rich history of AIDS in America and the advocates before me, who marched, who protested, who fought for future generations; all the while watching dozens upon dozens of friends die, and they themselves on the brink of death. Lastly I ask as a fellow American living with HIV/AIDS, look in your own 'backyards', before looking overseas.

Inaction and silence WILL = death of countless PLWHA in America. Mr. President, 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS, their friends, family, and countless advocates; with one resounding voice we ask you to intervene in this crisis, the time to ACT is NOW!

Please sign the petition on change.org requesting that the POTUS and Congress work together to divert 15-20 percent of PEPFAR funds: http://www.change.org/petitions/divert-15-of-international-aids-relief-money-to-help-american-plwha.

Respectfully,
Kevin Maloney
Twitter @RiseUpToHIV
"Voices of unity strengthening community"

Sources

www.pepfar.gov/documents/organization/80161.pdf
www.adapadvocacyassociation.org/pdf/2009_Domestic_AIDS__04.06.pdf
www.nastad.org/Docs/100316_FY2012%20Ryan%20White%20Funding%20Needs%20B.pdf
www.dailykos.com/story/2011/09/22/1018932/-Senator-Gillibrand-Leads-18-Senators-To-Protect-Global-AIDS-Funding

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Kevin Maloney

Kevin Maloney

Random things about me: I am kind, caring, respectful and wanting to make a difference/impact in the World. I've been to Australia, New Zealand and 13 countries in Europe, and have traveled and lived all over the United States. I have a Bachelor's degree in Health Services Management and will be working towards my Master's In Public Health. I am an uncle of two of the MOST adorable girls in the World, and have one brother. I am a Momma's boy, and it is hard to see my mother's health in such a deteriorated state -- she has severe COPD (from 40 years of smoking). In March 2010 I was told that I have HIV and a month later, with follow-up labs, was then told I also acquired hepatitis C (not through IV drug use). I aspire to great things. Stay tuned.

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