Continued funding urged for U.S. and global HIV/AIDS programs

Fri, Dec 1st 2017 01:00 pm

WASHINGTON—On World AIDS Day, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, Chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, along with Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, urge full funding of U.S. and global HIV and AIDS programs in the FY 2019 budget request. Their position was outlined in a letter sent to the Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The letter to Director Mick Mulvaney coincides with World AIDS Day, December 1, 2017.  While acknowledging that great strides have been made regarding the AIDS epidemic, the letter emphasizes that any reduction in the funding of programs could have catastrophic life-threatening implications.

In 2000, only 685,000 people had access to HIV treatment. Today, roughly 21 million people have access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the past six years has seen a reduction of 56 % in new infections in children in Eastern and Southern Africa and a 47 % reduction worldwide.

Archbishop Broglio said, "At a moment when we are finally witnessing great success in turning back a disease that shocked the world only a generation ago, any cuts in funding would directly result in a reduction in the number of people living with HIV who are added to treatment each year, and could trigger a resurgence in the global epidemic."

"Despite enormous gains, millions of lives still hang in the balance", says Sean Callahan. "This also extends to 16 million children who have lost one or both parents due to AIDS related illnesses, and millions more children who are vulnerable because the disease has contributed to malnutrition, cognitive delays, stunting, lack of education or poor physical or mental health."

Their letter argues that it is critical the U.S. government continue to fund the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to at least 2017 levels. "Although we have principled concerns about those PEPFAR and Global Fund prevention activities we find inconsistent with Catholic teaching and do not implement or advocate for these activities, we support the lifesaving missions of PEPFAR and the Global Fund and urge robust funding for both programs."

The full text of the letter can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/usccb-crs-letter-to-omb-director-mulvaney-re-hiv-aids-programs-2017-12-01.cfm

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