PEPFAR Should Fully Fund Efforts To Build African Health Care Systems, Provide Generic AIDS Drugs, Opinion Piece Says
Although the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- which aims to spend $15 billion over five years to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean -- offers a "tremendous opportunity to export" U.S. expertise in combating the epidemic, the initiative must be "fully funded and distributed with speed" to help build the health care infrastructure "that Africa so urgently needs," Dr. Kenneth Mayer, director of the Brown University AIDS Program and an adviser to Health Action AIDS, writes in a Providence Journal opinion piece. There are "plenty of examples" in countries such as Uganda, Botswana, Senegal and Haiti in which HIV/AIDS treatment programs have been successful, but "only a small fraction of the millions of people worldwide who need [antiretroviral] treatment are receiving it," Mayer says. One successful program -- the MTCT-Plus Initiative, which was established by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health -- aims to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission and provides treatment to the mother and her family to help "preserve the family unit," Mayer says. However, the program "relies partly" on fixed-dose combination generic antiretroviral drugs approved by the World Health Organization, according to Mayer. Mailman Dean Dr. Allan Rosenfield recently urged the United States to adopt WHO's approval of the FDC generic drugs because they "enabl[e] the rapid scale-up of HIV care and treatment efforts" and "provid[e] a much more convenient dosing regimen, consisting of few pills each day," according to Mayer. Mayer concludes that national lawmakers should "support programs to provide the highest possible funding for AIDS this year" because "[w]ith political leadership, we can save the lives of millions of parents, reducing the number of children who are orphaned by AIDS" (Mayer, Providence Journal, 4/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.