Voice of America (11.18.2013)
Voice of America reported that this week the US Senate unanimously passed a 5-year extension for the successful bipartisan President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The program, originated a decade ago by President George W. Bush, is expected to pass the House of Representatives; it then will go to President Barack Obama for his signature.
PEPFAR, a popular vehicle for advancing HIV treatment, combats AIDS on a worldwide scale by providing antiretroviral drug assistance to almost 6 million people and care and support to almost 15 million people. The recently passed bill, which a bipartisan group of senators sponsored, broadens existing funds that provide support for more than 4.5 million orphans and vulnerable children.
“Extending this vital program will bolster our efforts to combat HIV/AIDS as PEPFAR transitions from an emergency response to a sustainable effort that embraces greater partner country ownership,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
The measure, considered one of the most successful US foreign policies, is expected to pass the House vote easily this week. Critics charge that funding has fallen since 2010, but President Obama argued that the program’s scope has expanded without having to increase spending.