Associated Press (12.01.11) - Friday, December 02, 2011
President Barack Obama announced two initiatives on World AIDS
Day, recommitting the United States to fighting HIV/AIDS both
abroad and domestically. "We can beat this disease," Obama
said at an event in Washington, with former presidents George
W. Bush and Bill Clinton participating via satellite.
Building on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR), Obama pledged to help 6 million people in hard-hit
countries access antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2013, an
increase of 2 million. New, expanded overseas targets also
include providing ARVs to 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant
women to prevent mother-to-child infection; distributing more
than 1 billion condoms in the next two years; and funding 4.7
million voluntary medical male circumcisions in eastern and
southern Africa within two years.
Launched by Bush with a $15 billion budget in 2003, PEPFAR in
2008 was given a $48 billion, five-year budget by Congress. No
increase in funding is expected; instead, the expanded targets
will be paid for through increased PEPFAR efficiencies and
cuts in treatment costs, officials said.
In addition, Obama announced plans to boost domestic spending
on HIV treatment. Officials said he would direct the
Department of Health and Human Services to increase funding
for treatment by $50 million, using funds that are already
part of the HHS budget and do not require Congressional
approval. The bulk, $35 million, will go to state programs
helping patients access ARVs. Currently, more than 6,500
Americans with HIV are on waiting lists for treatment, the
White House said.
The remainder will fund HIV medical clinics across the
country, especially where infections have increased and care
is not readily available. The clinic funding will give 7,500
more patients access to treatment, officials said.