Commentary & Opinion
Responses to PEPFAR Reauthorization
July 31, 2008
Several newspapers and a journal have published commentaries in response to legislation to reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Summaries appear below.
- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), San Francisco Chronicle: The PEPFAR reauthorization bill is a "landmark achievement that will save millions of people from certain death and prevent millions of new HIV infections in the developing world," Lee writes, adding, "Sadly, our commitment to fighting AIDS globally has not extended to the fight against AIDS here at home." It is "past time our government stopped turning a blind eye to our national AIDS epidemic," according to Lee, who adds, "Far greater support is needed for community responses to the epidemic in Black America, especially through the Minority AIDS Initiative." In addition, the U.S. "must develop a national AIDS strategy and fund HIV prevention initiatives designed for African-Americans," Lee writes. She concludes that HIV/AIDS is "not just a foreign policy issue. If we wish to show real global leadership on AIDS, then we must keep our commitments abroad and take care of our epidemic here at home" (Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/30).
- Wafaa El-Sadr and David Hoos, New England Journal of Medicine: "Since its inception, PEPFAR has faced criticism," El-Sadr of the Mailman School of Public Health and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and Hoos of the Mailman School write in an NEJM perspective piece. According to the authors, PEPFAR's "most vocal critics have focused on some of its prevention strategies," but "critics have also questioned PEFPAR's focus on HIV care and treatment." In addition, the program was "criticized for creating a vertical program with disease-specific goals, as well as a single-donor driven structure and strategy," the authors write. They add that despite PEPFAR's "verticality, the program has also been reasonably well integrated with the global and national responses to the HIV epidemic." The "key challenge for PEPFAR will be to maintain its sense of urgency and its razor-sharp focus on results -- factors that have resulted in remarkable achievements in the face of enormous challenges," the authors write, concluding, "The advances have been dramatic, but much remains to be done" (El-Sadr/Hoos, NEJM, 8/7).
- Michael Gerson, Washington Post: The "bipartisan expansion" of PEPFAR, as well as the President's Malaria Initiative, is "significant in a number of ways," columnist Gerson writes in a Post opinion piece. The legislation is the "congressional affirmation of a major legacy of" President Bush, Gerson writes, adding that the bill's passage "displayed the reviled Democratic Congress at its best." In addition, the legislation "served to isolate and discredit that element of American politics that refines hatred of government to a toxic purity," according to Gerson, who adds that the "largest significance of this bill, or course, is human." Without the "amazing generosity of America, the challenge faced by" many families worldwide "would be a private holocaust of abandonment, mourning and despair," Gerson writes (Gerson, Washington Post, 7/30).
- Rick Santorum, Washington Times: The PEPFAR reauthorization bill "preserves the PEPFAR program's successful founding principles, and it deserves the wide support it has achieved," Santorum, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writes in a Times letter to the editor in response to a recent Times editorial. According to Santorum, it is "worth noting that the bill includes new ... accountability and transparency benchmarks" for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Santorum, Washington Times, 7/30).
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