The number grew quickly yesterday and will continue to today, as thirty-nine advocacy organizations specializing in global public sexual and reproductive health issues urge the Senate to fix the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Africa (PEPFAR). As I wrote yesterday, the existing program, while impressive for getting treatment to two million people, fails to address serious flaws documented during PEPFAR’s first five years. Those flaws, grounded in ideological restrictions, permit five new people to be infected, for every two the program treats, creating a never-ending stream of infections.
A letter circulating now in Congress, in anticipation of a cloture vote in the Senate later today, from organizations who work on these issues around the world, says,
We write, however, with deep concern regarding provisions in the proposed substitute PEPFAR reauthorization bill governing prevention activities. The substitute reauthorization bill not only perpetuates but expands restrictions on funding for prevention activities that have been shown by various studies—including those by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO)—to undermine efforts to prevent the spread of HIV. Further, the bill deliberately omits for purely political purposes any mention of integration of HIV prevention with family planning despite the fact that such integration is recognized by the U.S. government as critical to strengthening HIV prevention programs for women and youth.
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The letter suggests changes that will fix the bill, based on the first five years of experience with PEPFAR and the experience of other global public health programs working on HIV/AIDS in Africa and other regions. The full text of letter can be found here (PDF) and the proposed fixes are similiar to those outlined in this piece.
You can read more the 60 articles from dozens of public health experts and other writers as part of Rewire’s extensive PEPFAR coverage: Fighting AIDS is About More Than Money.
The list of advocay organizations signing so far include:
ActionAid International USA
Advocates for Youth
African Medical and Research Foundation USA
African Services Committee
American Civil Liberties Union
Association to Fight Violence against Women (ALVF) Antenne Centre – Cameroon
American Jewish World Service
Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
Catholics for Choice
Center for Health and Gender Equity
Center for Inquiry
Center for Reproductive Rights
Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research
Health GAP (Global Access Project)
International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region
International Women’s Health Coalition
Law Students for Reproductive Justice
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Women’s Organizations
National Partnership for Women and Families
Network of Sex Work Projects
New York City AIDS Housing Network
Partners In Health
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Secular Coalition for America
Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network – Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
Society of Women and AIDS in Africa – Cameroon
The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education