Trump’s Budget Cuts Could Result in Resurgence of AIDS
Three people are infected with HIV every minute, according to UNAIDS.
For the first time ever, more than half of the people living with HIV in the world are receiving life-saving treatment, and the number of mortalities due to AIDS has been cut in half since 2005.
But that progress could be at its end if the Trump administration moves ahead with some of its proposed cuts.
Ahead of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, ONE has released a campaign report detailing how US cuts to treatment and prevention efforts would waste 15 years of investment, and ultimately result in a revival of the sickness.
“The Trump administration appears ready to unilaterally trade the iconic red ribbon for a white flag of surrender in the global fight against AIDS,” according to the report.
US leadership has been important in the prevention and elimination efforts against HIV/AIDS over the years.
Through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the US has saved 11 million lives, and US support for the Global Fund has also greatly contributed to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria efforts.
Now the White House has proposed an $800 million cut to bilateral HIV/AIDS efforts and $225 million cut to the Global Fund, which would drastically affect global progress made against AIDS in the last 15 years, according to the report.
President Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal 2018 said that the administration would, under PEPFAR, “continue to support ongoing commitments to global health programs, including [...] continuing treatment for all current HIV/AIDS patients.”
But this proposal also included the massive and unprecedented cuts to funding.
The administration suggested a new strategy for PEPFAR to handle these cuts that was released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in September.
Under the new strategy, PEPFAR would be focused on achieving control of the epidemic in 13 “priority” countries, and continue to uphold life-saving treatment in over 50 other countries.
This strategy could result in almost 300,000 deaths and more than 1.75 million new infections each year. This could reduce the number of people receiving treatment each year by a third — taking a huge step back in efforts to end HIV/AIDS, according to ONE’s report.
Putting an end to AIDS as a global health threat by 2030 is a global target that would result in success for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in more areas than one.
Eliminating the AIDS epidemic would help with efforts to end poverty and hunger, as well as ensure quality education, achieve gender equality, and make cities safe and resilient, among other goals.
Global Citizen campaigns on issues related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals just like these. You can take action here.
ONE’s report suggests that it is critical for Congress to continue funding PEPFAR, also insisting on the administration to fulfill US commitments to the Global Fund.
Read More: 6 Surprising Facts About HIV/AIDS Today
The new fiscal year began on Oct. 1, but Congress had not yet agreed on the year’s budget, so the government is currently working with a continuing resolution (CR) that was passed in September. Congress must compete the 2018 budget by Dec. 8 or pass another short-term CR, according to the Ecological Society of America.
PEPFAR must be able to use innovative strategies to hit the global targets of getting 30 million people onto treatment, while also reducing the number of new infections to 500,000 by 2020.
If targets like these are not met, the global community could lose its chance to end AIDS as a global health threat by 2030, according to ONE’s report.