WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate unanimously approved a bill to reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (H.R. 6651 PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018). The bipartisan legislation incorporates provisions Menendez coauthored to continue to signal Congress’ expectation that 10% of PEPFAR will be used to support activities specifically for orphans and vulnerable children.
“The unanimous passage of this commonsense legislation demonstrates that despite the steep—and frankly unconscionable—funding cuts the Trump Administration has tried to enact over the past two years, the United States Congress refuses to withdraw our support for the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The world is closing in on the 90-90-90 goals, the targets set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS whereby 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of people who know their status are accessing treatment, and 90 percent of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads by 2020. Success is within reach, but only if we remain committed to our current efforts.
“With the population of those aged 15–24 in sub-Saharan Africa set to double in size by 2020, millions more young people are entering the time in their lives when they are most susceptible to HIV infection. The international community must work even harder than we have to stay ahead of the epidemic. To walk away now would not only cost millions of lives, it would waste the billions of dollars that the United States has already invested. As we prepare to observe World AIDS Day on December 1, I am proud to see Congress sending a clear signal that the United States has no intention of abandoning the global fight against HIV/AIDS.”
The legislation reauthorizes the current program for 5 years. A copy of the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 can be found here.