Obama, The War on AIDS Has Not Been Won

This is the headline of an ad campaign that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) announced Monday. As part of its ongoing advocacy efforts to spur President Obama and the Administration to do more on AIDS, AHF is rolling out the ad headlined “President Obama, The War on AIDS Has Not Been Won,” which compares the amount of U.S. dollars spent fighting the global AIDS epidemic vs. the amount spent on the war in Afghanistan.

The ad features a scale with the globe on one side and the words “Global War on AIDS: $6.5 billion in 2010” and a map of Afghanistan on the other side with the words “Afghanistan War: $102 billion in 2010.”

The ad will appear as 16 bus shelter advertisements in Washington near the White House. To view the ad, you can visit www.changeaidsobama.org.

AHF’s latest campaign comes on the heels of the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna last month, in which President Obama received criticism for what many in the HIV/AIDS community see as a U.S. retreat on global AIDS under his leadership, says AHF.

It further says when campaigning for President, then-Senator Obama promised to “provide at least $50 billion by 2013 for the global fight against HIV/AIDS . . . in order to at least double the number of HIV-positive people on treatment and continue to provide treatments to one- third of all those who desperately need them.”

“We are asking President Obama to simply keep his promise on universal access to ARVs by spending the $10 billion annually on global AIDS which he voted for as a Senator and committed to as a presidential candidate,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

As President, Obama has not honored that promise, refusing to fully-fund the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the landmark U.S. global AIDS funding bill created by President George W. Bush in 2003, AHF said in its statement.

The Obama administration is on track to spend far less than planned by either the Global Health Initiative or the Lantos-Hyde Act of 2008, which renewed PEPFAR in 2008—and for which then-Senator Obama voted—and authorized spending of $48 billion from 2009 through 2013 through PEPFAR, the statement said.

Given its current spending levels and increases, the Obama administration will only hit $33.7 billion of this commitment Fiscal-Year 2013, $14.2 billion less than what was authorized. To reach $48 billion, Obama’s PEPFAR budget needs to be at least $11 billion for each of the next three years. This amounts to roughly $4.6 billion more per year over the current trend.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is a global AIDS organization, currently providing medical care and services to over 139,000 individuals in 23 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific region and Eastern Europe.

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Rakesh Raman