Interfaith Coalition Advocates for AIDS Funding at Pivotal Moment
When Ending the Epidemic is Within Reach
Earlier this year, the U.S. administration released its fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, which includes a nearly 20 percent cut in funding for AIDS treatment programs, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), widely credited with saving millions of lives during 15 years of steady global progress. In 2016, PEPFAR-funded programs ensured that almost 12 million people had access to life-saving HIV treatment, nearly two million babies were born HIV-free to infected mothers, and more than six million orphans and vulnerable children received care and support. The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) estimates that the administration’s proposed cuts could cost more than a million lives and orphan more than 300,000 children. Based on the advances made by PEPFAR and other good organizations, we stand at a moment when ending AIDS globally is both possible and near.
As the Senate and House now wrestle with their own versions of the budget, the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA) – a San Francisco Bay Area-based NGO working to end the epidemic in rural Africa’s HIV/AIDS hotspots — has gathered a coalition of faith leaders to ask Congress to maintain the funding needed to break the deadliest epidemic in human history for good. A diverse community of faith leaders from 16 states have signed on to the letter below. Coalition members share the belief that all people, including the most vulnerable living in the remotest regions on earth, deserve access to lifesaving care and treatment. If you’re interested in advocating for continued AIDS funding, click here for ideas on how to help: http://www.thegaia.org/get-involved/advocate/.
Subject: Cutting AIDS treatment funding: a death sentence for the poor?
Dear Honorable Members of the U.S. Congress:
As members of faith communities across the United States, we urgently request your leadership for continued funding of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for global HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in impoverished countries. A historic moment is now upon us; ending AIDS is within reach, thanks largely to PEPFAR and other efforts to make HIV medications available throughout the developing world. Most regrettably, some ill people continue to face discrimination and lack of services. They lag behind in being diagnosed and linked with long-term, stable treatment. For them in particular, cuts to global funding will mean fewer or no HIV/AIDS medications, treatment, prevention education, or care. They would face certain death. And gone would be the chance to eliminate history’s deadliest epidemic in our lifetime. According to UNAIDS’ fast-track strategy, the U.S. administration’s proposed cuts would spark a massive resurgence of HIV infections and AIDSrelated deaths around the world (see UNAIDS’ “Fast-Track Update on Investments Needed in the AIDS Response”). In the coming budgeting season, we ask that you exercise your Congressional leadership by voting to maintain or expand funding for PEPFAR‘s global HIV/AIDS programs. Please stand with us and with the world’s most vulnerable people.