In July, world leaders, experts and advocates will gather in Washington for the 2012 International AIDS Conference, hosted in D.C. for the first time ever. This landmark moment presents an opportunity to highlight the successes that U.S. foreign aid has achieved over the past decades, notably its leadership in addressing HIV and AIDS globally through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Last year in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the first diagnosis of AIDS in the U.S., a bipartisan group of members of Congress launched the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. The Caucus examines methods by which the U.S. can maintain global leadership in response to the epidemic – both in the U.S. and around the world – demonstrating an impressive show of cooperation across the aisle. In this month’s U.S. Policy Matters, members of the HIV/AIDS Caucus speak to the successes of past years and the future of U.S. advocacy on the fight against HIV and AIDS globally.
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RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
The American people have always risen to the challenge to help our global neighbors. We recognize that we have moral responsibility to respect the dignity of all human beings no matter what country they call home, and that is why I am an advocate of global health initiatives. When it comes to global diseases like HIV/AIDS we can be proud of our efforts to provide resources for the prevention, treatment and research aimed at ultimately curing this global disease.
Bipartisan efforts in Congress have enabled us to provide tools to combat HIV/AIDS. As a supporter of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) legislation, we have worked together for a common-sense solution to tackle this growing problem. This initiative allows us to further develop HIV/AIDS research and treatments while helping countries all over the world cultivate sustainable national health programs to target this disease.
While the government has an influential role to play, faith-based organizations are making a difference in the battle as well. As a former member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, we examined how federal funds can help public-private partnerships and reach populations of rural Africans to improve the health and education of this epidemic. I am proud of our combined efforts and remain involved and committed to continuing Congress’ efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.
By Senator John Boozman (R -AR)
GOING FOR GOLD – AN END TO AIDS
This month, the world’s eyes turn to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. As Americans around the country cheer for our athletes and share in the joys of gold medals and amazing accomplishments, I urge us to treat the XIX International AIDS Conference (IAC) the same way – to consider it the Olympics of Health.
Americans should be proud. For the first time in 20 years, the IAC will be in the United States, and we – leaders in the global HIV and AIDS fight – will be able to showcase our incredible efforts and successes on our own soil developing new solutions to address the ongoing challenges posed by HIV and AIDS throughout the world, and even in our own country. Through a bipartisan effort begun by Congress and President George W. Bush and completed by President Obama, people living with HIV and AIDS are finally able to travel to our country to share in the invaluable learning and networking that comes from this global conference. At no other time in history has the U.S.’s global leadership been more important than it is today, in large part sustained by the bipartisan Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus – co-chaired by Representatives Trent Franks, Jim McDermott and myself – and by U.S.-led efforts like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Today we have the tools, knowledge and science to finally say with certainty that ending AIDS globally is within our reach.
As we applaud new world records in London this year, let us remember to applaud the collaboration, bipartisanship and brave U.S. leadership that is essential to breaking the trend of HIV and AIDS. We must change history against this deadly disease once and for all.
By Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
COMBINATION PREVENTION CAN MEAN AN AIDS-FREE GENERATION
As a physician in the Congo during the 1980s, I witnessed the devastating effect of AIDS. I saw adults die and watched women pass HIV to their newborns – all because we had no comprehensive response to the disease. Today, an end to global HIV is within reach.
I am proud to say because of PEPFAR – the largest public health program of its kind – millions who would be near death now enjoy productive lives. PEPFAR uses resources effectively by embracing combination prevention: a mix of biomedical, behavioral and structural interventions that together can stop the spread of HIV.
We now have many tools to fight the spread of HIV: biomedical interventions like antiretroviral drugs and male circumcision; behavioral interventions like condom-distribution programs and encouraging monogamy; and structural interventions like needle-exchange programs and outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians. Together they can lead to an AIDS-free generation. By helping countries design and implement combination-prevention programs, PEPFAR can help direct its resources according to the needs of a given population.
I was heartened by Republican colleague and Chairwoman Kay Granger’s release of an appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013 with no reductions to PEPFAR, which the full House Appropriations committee maintained. This bipartisan commitment, including the new HIV/AIDS Caucus I co-founded, demonstrates that both parties have common ground to fight HIV. The United States can backslide if we do not continue to support PEPFAR and domestic efforts to end HIV. Let us build on our progress and seize this moment toward defeating HIV/AIDS for good.
By Rep. McDermott (D-WA)