PEPFAR: Then and Now

In 2003, under the Bush administration, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was passed. This bill provided $15 billion for HIV treatments and a decade later, the United States has helped treat millions of people in Africa. Approximately 50 billion has been spent since 2003 and although some believe that the amount was allocated wrongly, several feel the bill proved to be a success.

Thanks to the bill, pregnant mothers with HIV were able to get antiretroviral drug treatment and 740,000 infants were not infected. PEPFAR has allowed two-thirds of the 10 million people suffering from HIV in South Africa to get treatment. Africa received the most money from PEPFAR than any other country and the large decrease in HIV prevalence, indicates the positive effect of this initiative.

PEPFAR money provided the following:

  • Access to antiretroviral therapies and HIV tests
  • Funds to buy large quantities of drugs
  • The hiring of new staff including pharmacists, doctors and nurses
  • Building of new clinics in rural areas

Now a decade later, President Obama continues with Bush’s commitment to fighting AIDS worldwide. In 2010 he announced a National AIDS Strategy to combat the infection rate that also includes American citizens. Reports from Emory University indicate that HIV rates among U.S. black, gay and bisexual men are greater than those once found in South Africa. The National AIDS Strategy thus aims to also decrease the infection rate for this group by 2015. Currently, Obama has expanded PEPFAR so that four times as many people are able to receive treatment without increased government spending.

– Maybelline Martez

Sources: NPR, Huffington Post
Photo: Vintage 3D