On the eve of the Global Fund Replenishment Conference at a White House event celebrating World AIDS Day, President Obama pledged a continuing US leadership role to respond to the AIDS pandemic “until all men and women can protect themselves from infection, everyone has access to treatment and no babies are born with HIV.” He announced a $5 billion US pledge to the Global Fund over the next three years, encouraging other donors to pledge so “we don’t leave our money on the table” and noted that the PEPFAR program had surpassed the treatment target he announced in 2011 by providing treatment for 6.7 million people.
Notably absent, however, was an announcement of new PEPFAR targets. Instead, the President noted that the White House would soon be announcing a replacement for Dr. Eric Goosby as Office for Global AIDS Coordinator with a first task of working with countries, civil society and the Global Fund to develop service targets for countries where PEPFAR and the Global Fund operate.
Secretary Kerry also spoke about the treatment target announced in 2011 and the exciting results announced today and noted that “these targets pushed us to go further.” Kerry recollected the bipartisan effort that led to the creating of PEPFAR program and lauded the recent passage of the PEPFAR Leadership and Stewardship Act of 2013 which reflected the same bipartisan commitment and cooperation. President Obama plans to sign the legislation into law today.
The event also featured a panel that included NIH Director Francis Collins, Bill Gates, Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul, the finance minister of Nigeria, and domestic HIV advocate Kali Lindsey. Gates praised the US investments in PEPFAR and the Global Fund as well as the “upstream support” for research that provides new tools for the response. In this arena, the Administration announced that NIH would redirect an additional $100 million to HIV cure research.
Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute on Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) offered the final talk at the event. He spoke about the HIV cure research agenda while also noting that it is possible to end the pandemic without identifying a cure for HIV. For a cure to make a real impact on the pandemic and not just on the lives of some individuals, Fauci argued that a cure needed to be “simple, safe, scalable, and affordable to be relevant to millions.”