Analysis: Trump PEPFAR strategy, budget proposals add up to surrender in HIV battle

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White House proposals to slash more than a billion dollars from U.S. supported HIV responses and limit efforts to control the epidemic to a handful of countries represents an unprecedented retreat from American leadership of the global fight against the disease and would reverse gains that were achieved, at a cost of more than $80 billion, over the last 15 years, according to a ONE analysis released on World AIDS Day.

If accepted by Congress, and without continued Congressional oversight, the Trump administration’s approach would, in the next year alone, drop the numbers of new people getting access to antiretroviral treatment by a third, add about 300,000 to the death toll of the disease that took an estimated 1 million lives last year, and lead to more than 1.75 million infections.

The analysis sets those numbers against progress spurred by U.S. support and direction that, it notes, has led to a 47 percent reduction in HIV-related deaths over the last decade and a half, protected 2 million babies who would otherwise have been born with HIV from becoming infected with the virus, and that has fueled the development of technologies, strategies and medicines that have seen the annual price of life-saving, transmission preventing medicine from $10,000 per person per year in 2000 to as little as $75 per person per year today.

The cost of incorporating the Trump administration budget and strategy proposals would be steep, the analysis emphasizes, not just postponing the attainment of goals to end the worldwide impacts of HIV, but potentially putting control of the pandemic forever out of reach.

The analysis, which can be downloaded here, commends Congressional rejection so far of proposed White House cuts to HIV programming, but also emphasizes a need for vigilance on the part of lawmakers to ensure that funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is used effectively.

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