Desmond Tutu: PEPFAR should double HIV treatment, set Global Fund commitment

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South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Pointing to data released last month that demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of early antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV, Archbishop Desmond Tutu challenges President Obama in a Politico op-ed column today to commit to doubling PEPFAR’s life-saving reach, and to promise up to $5 billion in Global Fund donations over the next three years.

Tutu tells of a conversation in Capetown last summer, when, he says, he told the President “his success is our success — his failure, our failure.”

He also points to the PEPFAR Blueprint, released on last year’s World AIDS Day, which laid out a plan “for creating an AIDS-free Generation” founded on the premise that rapid scale up of antiretroviral treatment access in hard hit countries would play a critical role in lowering community transmission rates.

At President Obama’s invitation, the Global Fund’s upcoming Replenishment Conference will be held in Washington, DC during the first week of December. While Tutu, who also is honorary chair of endgame, a global campaign to defeat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, says pledges from donor nations leading up to conference are promising, he adds that a three year matching commitment from the U.S. would spur donors to dig deeper. A bountiful Global Fund replenishment, Tutu says, “could quickly turn the tide against AIDS.”

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