PEPFAR Programs Should Include Family Planning Services, Opinion Piece Says
Although the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has made "impressive gains," the program is "lacking" because it does not provide HIV prevention to women through expanded access to reproductive health and family planning programs, Janet Fleischman, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' HIV/AIDS Task Force, writes in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece.
According to Fleischman, it is "critical" that HIV/AIDS programs include family planning services. She adds that such services allow women to reduce the number of "unintended pregnancies leading to children born with HIV, as well as the number of child deaths." Integration of family planning and HIV services also will "help strengthen the health sector overall," according to Fleischman. In addition, integrated programs represent the "kind of efficiency and long-term cost-effectiveness that should make" integrated programs a "priority," she adds.
Although it "won't be easy" to combine family planning services with HIV prevention programs because of a lack of funding for family planning, the U.S. has an "unprecedented opportunity" to do so as Congress works to reauthorize PEPFAR, Fleischman writes. She concludes that the U.S. "should heed the evidence and promote this integrated approach as a key component of its AIDS policy" (Fleischman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/11).