Physicians, scientists, advocates call on Kerry to push for funding that backs policy in global AIDS fight

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Saying they are “gravely concerned about reports that the Obama Administration’s FY 2014 budget requests for PEPFAR and the Global Fund fail to provide adequate resources,” researchers and physicians from programs, centers and institutions leading the international AIDS response sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Friday, urging him to speak up for funding that will back policy and pursue the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

The signers of the letter, who include leaders of global health programs at Harvard Medical School, Yale University, John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Columbia University and Emory University’s School of Public Health, point to the PEPFAR Blueprint, a plan to use scientific advances strategically to reach a tipping point in the AIDS epidemic, that Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton called for, and introduced last year, citing the plan’s promise. The letter also points to the recent overhaul of the funding model for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which recently appointed its first American Executive Director — former PEPFAR head and global AIDS Ambassador Mark Dybul. A number of national organizations also joined the letter as signatories.

“A financial retreat from the United States government on the heels of promoting an ambitious PEPFAR plan to end AIDS and rejuvenating the Global Fund leadership and mission would be nothing short of catastrophic,” the letter says.

While the Obama administration’s budget for Fiscal Year 2014 has not been released, the administration’s budget proposal last year included a cut of more than 12 percent for funding for the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, while calling for an increase to funding for the Global Fund. And, as noted here a Huffington Post column from global AIDS advocate Matthew Kavanagh cited rumors that this year’s proposal would be similar, but with less money for the Global Fund, as well. Heads of government departments have a window of opportunity after receiving the administration’s proposal to appeal the amount of their proposed allotment.

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