PEPFAR Reauthorization Legislation Should Make HIV/AIDS Treatment ‘Priority,’ Letter to Editor Says
"When it comes to AIDS, treatment is prevention," Republican Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) write in a Washington Post letter to the editor in response to a recent opinion piece by columnist Michael Gerson. According to Burr and Coburn, Gerson in the opinion piece "baselessly attacked [their] position on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief" and "went so far as to accuse [them] of being 'indifferent to human suffering.'" They add, "Nothing could be further from the truth." The authors write that along with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), they have introduced "legislation that would continue PEPFAR's lifesaving focus by maintaining the mandate that at least 55% of all funding through the program be tied to treatment" for HIV-positive people.
"If we fail to aggressively treat patients, we endorse the spread of the virus," Burr and Coburn write, adding, "By requiring that the majority of PEPFAR funds go toward treatment, we are working to prevent the spread of this devastating virus." HIV/AIDS has "destroyed far too many lives already, and it is time to say enough is enough," the authors write, concluding, "We must continue to support legislation that makes treatment a funding priority" (Burr/Coburn, Washington Post, 5/20).