Bethesda, MD --On the eve of AIDS 2012, the international HIV/AIDS conference, soon to get under way in Washington, DC, a new Health Policy Brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examines the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. This major program of assistance to foreign countries affected by HIV/AIDS was created in 2003 and will face reauthorization next year.
The brief accompanies Health Affairs’ just-released July issue, “Assessing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.”
Topics covered in the brief include:
- PEPFAR’s establishment: President George W. Bush proposed the creation of PEPFAR at a time when the number of HIV cases threatened to destabilize sub-Saharan Africa and other countries around the world. Aggressive targets were set to put 2 million people on antiretroviral drug treatment; prevent 7 million new HIV infections; and deliver care to 10 million affected individuals, including orphans and vulnerable children. By the time the program was first reauthorized in 2008, those objectives were met.
- PEPFAR’s opportunities and challenges: President Barack Obama has set even more aggressive targets for PEPFAR between now and the end of 2013, including placing 6 million people on antiretroviral therapy, funding nearly 5 million voluntary male circumcisions to prevent HIV transmission, and treating 1.5 million HIV-infected pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Thanks to scientific breakthroughs that have highlighted dramatic opportunities for HIV prevention, some policy makers argue that an “AIDS-free generation” is in sight.
- The road to reauthorization: PEPFAR is due to be reauthorized by Congress in 2013, at a time of fiscal constraint. Some US lawmakers question whether this program needs to be maintained at its current funding level. As with many other programs, PEPFAR’s future is likely to be affected by November’s election results.
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