Restraints can’t be put on AIDS funds

April 17, 2010

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US SEEKS to rein in AIDS program’’ (Page A1, April 11) raises serious concerns about the future of US efforts to address global HIV/AIDS. It is difficult to identify a foreign assistance program that has been as successful as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, both in terms of saving lives and advancing America’s diplomatic goals.

The Obama administration’s new Global Health Initiative, designed to broaden and better integrate health programming overseas, deserves wide support. But stalling on global AIDS threatens to undermine the worthy goals of the initiative. The availability of AIDS treatment has been a driver of health service expansion globally, and has helped build people’s confidence in health systems.

We cannot hope to establish sustainable health services in developing countries as waiting lines for AIDS treatment grow. Today, US investments in global health amount to less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the federal budget. To realize the goals of the Global Health Initiative, Congress should expand investment across a range of global health programming, including HIV/AIDS.

The writer is vice president and director of public policy for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

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