Last December, President Obama challenged us to end AIDS now that science has produced the tools to make this vision possible. The president’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget proposal released yesterday makes important investments in domestic HIV programs but falls short in committing the resources necessary to put us on course to end AIDS globally.
New resources to meet the demand for HIV treatment through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, in tandem with $15 million to build primary HIV care capacity under Ryan White Part C and $8 million targeted to communities of color, are critical steps to address the HIV public health crisis in the U.S. The $40 million in new resources for HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in addition to the Ryan White funding are critical to advance the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
The funding is urgently needed to improve access to care for the more than 50 percent of people with HIV in the U.S. who are not in regular care and to make real headway in reducing the 50,000 new HIV cases occurring annually in this country. The president’s commitment to evidence-based prevention, including comprehensive sexual education programs and syringe exchange, will maximize the return on these vital investments.
By proposing a draconian cut of more than a half a billion dollars or almost 13 percent for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – the president is not providing the resources necessary to fulfill his commitment to putting 6 million on HIV treatment under the program or to scale up male circumcision or prevention of vertical transmission programs. The $4 billion commitment to the Global Fund must be maintained but not at the expense of the highly successful PEPFAR programs. Now is not the time to retreat on our investment in either of these lifesaving programs.
These are investments that we cannot afford not to make. A groundbreaking clinical trial last year – the HPTN 052 study, named the scientific breakthrough of the year by Science magazine – documented conclusively that early HIV treatment saved the lives of individuals with HIV infection and dramatically reduced HIV transmission.
The findings from the HPTN 052 study and the other tools that we have today to end the AIDS pandemic are products of our investment in research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The proposal to level fund NIH will stall future discoveries that hold the keys to stopping AIDS and other deadly infectious diseases in their tracks.
We urge Congress to act swiftly to pass the FY 2013 funding bills and to move us closer to ending AIDS here at home and around the globe by supporting the president’s proposed increases for Ryan White and the CDC plus providing the much needed increases in funding for NIH and PEPFAR.
The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) is the professional home for more than 5,000 physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to the field of HIV/AIDS. Nested within the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), HIVMA promotes quality in HIV care and advocates policies that ensure a comprehensive and humane response to the AIDS pandemic informed by science and social justice. For more information, visit www.hivma.org.
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