May 05, 2010

Chairman Kerry Welcomes Additional Funding For Prevention Against Gender-Based Violence and HIV/AIDS

Washington, D.C.—Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today issued the following statement in response to the announcement from the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator that the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will commit $30 million to support Tanzania, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to prevent and respond to gender-based violence:

“In the Democratic Republic of Congo, violence against women has reached epidemic proportions, and HIV/AIDS rates are climbing. Today’s announcement that the United States, through the PEPFAR program, will step up its efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in the DRC as well as in Tanzania and Mozambique is a welcome step forward that I hope will be repeated elsewhere. In 2007, the Institute of Medicine called on PEPFAR to focus greater attention on the factors that put women at elevated risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. The 2008 legislation reauthorizing the PEPFAR program identified gender-based violence as a contributing factor in the chain of HIV/AIDS transmission. The time for robust action is now; the link between gender-based violence and HIV/AIDs could not be clearer. When women do not have the power to say no to sex, they can potentially be exposed to HIV. This disturbing reality causes women, families, and communities to suffer.”

Senator Kerry was an original cosponsor of the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2008, and he worked with Senator Frist in 2002 on the comprehensive AIDS bill that laid the foundation for the program that became PEPFAR.