Washington Post Examines PEPFAR’s Progress
The Washington Post on Monday examined the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and its goals after the State Department last week released its second annual report to Congress on the plan's progress (Brown, Washington Post, 2/13). PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria primarily to 15 focus countries and provides funding to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. According to the PEPFAR report, the U.S. in 2005 provided antiretroviral drugs to 471,000 people in developing countries, increasing the number of people who have access to the treatment, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. By comparison, an estimated 50,000 HIV-positive people in Africa had access to antiretrovirals three years ago, according to official statistics. The U.S. aims to increase the number to 860,000 people in fiscal year 2006 and to 1.3 million in FY 2007, provided that Congress approves President Bush's proposed $4 billion budget for international HIV/AIDS programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/9). According to the Post, PEPFAR aims to provide antiretrovirals to two million people by 2008. The number of HIV-positive people currently receiving treatment "var[ies] greatly" by country, with some countries, such as Uganda, exceeding their 2008 targets and others, such as Ethiopia failing to meet their targets, the Post reports. PEPFAR spent $294 million on prevention programs last year, $76 million of which went toward abstinence and fidelity programs, according to the Post. Approximately $66 million of the funding went toward the "provision of condoms and prevention messages emphasizing their use," the Post reports.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that PEPFAR is "transformational diplomacy in action," adding that its approach "is to empower every nation to take ownership of its own fight against HIV/AIDS." Mark Dybul, deputy U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, said, "There are only three countries with generalized epidemics in Africa that have seen a decrease in (HIV) prevalence," adding that in each of those countries, the reason for the decrease is the ABC method, which stands for abstinence, be faithful and use condoms. Jodi Jacobson, director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, said programs involving condom use often are targeted only to high-risk groups such as commercial sex workers but that "the highest rates of new infection in many of these societies is among married women." She added, "What you need to do is provide all people with the complete range of tools and information that they need to make choices that fit their own personal circumstances." She also said that some of the faith-based programs that receive PEPFAR funding have limited experience in health-related education and care (Washington Post, 2/13).