USCCB-CRS Letter to Director Mulvaney on HIV-AIDS Programs, December 1, 2017
December 1, 2017
Mr. John Michael (Mick) Mulvaney
The Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Director Mulvaney:
With the approach of World AIDS Day on December 1, we write to urge that the administration's budget request for FY19 fully fund U.S. global HIV and AIDS programs. At a moment when we are finally witnessing great success in turning back a disease that shocked the world only a generation ago, any cuts in funding would directly result in a reduction in the number of people living with HIV who are added to treatment each year, and could trigger a resurgence in the global epidemic.
In 2000, before the creation of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, only 685,000 people had access to HIV treatment. Today, thanks to global leadership by the United States and bold financial commitments by many others, roughly 21 million people have access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). According to UNAIDS, the past six years has seen a reduction of 56 % in new infections in children in Eastern and Southern Africa and a 47 % reduction worldwide. Although we have principled concerns about those PEPFAR and Global Fund prevention activities we find inconsistent with Catholic teaching and do not implement or advocate for these activities, we support the lifesaving missions of PEPFAR and the Global Fund and urge robust funding for both programs.
Despite enormous gains, millions of lives still hang in the balance. Roughly 30 % of people living with HIV do not know their HIV status; 17.1 million people living with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy, one million of them children; and more than half of all people living with HIV are not virally suppressed. Further, there are over 16 million children who have lost one or both parents due to AIDS-related illnesses, and millions more children who are vulnerable because the disease has contributed to malnutrition, cognitive delays, stunting, lack of education and poor physical and mental health. There is much work to be done to make a difference in the lives of these children and their families.
As you craft the 2019 budget, we urge you to protect HIV and AIDS programs from efforts to reduce funding or to alter the U.S. Government's PEPFAR strategy in ways that would diminish the progress we have made. PEPFAR has saved 11 million lives, currently supports 11.5 million people on treatment, and mitigates the impact of the disease on 6.2 million orphans and vulnerable children. The Global Fund has saved 22 million lives and currently supports 11 million people on treatment. Through the end of 2016, there has been a decline of one-third in the number of people dying from AIDS-related illnesses, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in the countries where the Global Fund invests. These are tremendous successes in which our nation played a key leadership role.
The bipartisan resolve in Congress combined with presidential leadership these past 15 years has created a hope unimaginable before the creation of PEPFAR and the Global Fund. It is critical that the U.S. government continue to fund PEPFAR and the Global Fund to at least 2017 levels. It is also very important that the Administration fulfills the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund. U.S. investment in the Global Fund acts as a catalyst to leverage the investment of other donors.
Again, we urge you to fully fund efforts against HIV and AIDS for 2019. Cutting back on our investment will translate to millions of lives lost, unimaginable suffering and billions more dollars in expense and lost economic growth.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Mr. Sean Callahan
Catholic Relief Services
cc: Members of Congress