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Lugar warns President against reducing commitment to global HIV/AIDS program

On July 30, the two year anniversary of enactment of legislation on U.S. global leadership against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Dick Lugar wrote President Obama expressing concern about funding being diverted from the program  to other parts of the President’s global health initiative.


Here is the full text of the letter to the President:

Two years ago today, Vice President Biden and I were joined by a number of our Republican and Democratic colleagues in the East Room of the White House as President Bush signed the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008. 

This bipartisan and bicameral legislation, which you supported as a Senator, was a landmark step in continuing the work of the worldwide fight against HIV/AIDS that was originally established under bipartisan leadership in 2003.  In its first five years, the program, referred to as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR, supported treatment to more than 2 million people, care to more than 10 million people, including more than 4 million orphans and vulnerable children, and prevention of mother-to-child treatment services during nearly 16 million pregnancies.  The second five year phase of the program has even more ambitious targets, not only for saving more lives, but for the development of strategies to lead countries on a path of sustainability by training more health care workers.  The Act also provides guidance for working with host countries in developing framework agreements that incorporate an individual country’s national health agenda and allows for in-country flexibility to ensure the country’s specific epidemic is being properly addressed.

I strongly believe that if such strong bipartisan support and the inclusion of a coalition of faith-based and non-governmental organizations across the political spectrum had not participated in the crafting of the initial Leadership Act of 2003 and later the Lantos-Hyde reauthorization bill, such successes could not have been attained. 

As more details of the Administration’s Global Health Initiative emerge and the role of PEPFAR in the initiative is more specifically defined, I would ask that the goals and accomplishments of the U.S. global AIDS program not be put at risk by health program expansion efforts.  It is imperative that any program expansion not lose sight of our original objectives of saving lives and addressing the needs of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.