Sunday, July 13, 2008

Help Keep African HIV/AIDS Relief Funding

Contact Senators and encourage them to complete work to reauthorize and vote on S. 2731, Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act. This bill, originally signed into law by President Bush in 2004, created the PEPFAR program which provides, among other things, drugs to treat HIV/AIDS patients in Africa. Faith Alive Hospital receives many, if not all, of its drugs to treat HIV and AIDS from this program.

The risk of suspending funding, however brief, could disrupt HIV treatment, undermine the credibility of health care institutions providing HIV services, and endanger lives. Because of PEPFAR, we'll be empowering people across the developing world to treat 3 million patients with life - saving drugs, prevent 12 million cases of HIV, take on malaria and TB, care for 5 million AIDS orphans, and expand training for 140,000 new health care workers.

The legislation would replace and expand the current $15 billion act that President Bush championed in a State of the Union address and Congress passed in 2003. That act expires at the end of September.

Bishop Wenski, Bishop of Orlando and Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on International Justice and Peace, reiterated the Church's support for the PEPFAR program in a recent opinion editorial, stating: "Not only has PEPFAR saved lives, the world has seen in PEPFAR a true act of American compassion and leadership."

You can help by going the following link to contact your Senator to show your support for funding of the PEPFAR program and the work that it is doing in the poorest parts of the world. Simply copy and past the address into your browser.

UPDATE: We commend the Senate for the overwhelming, bipartisan passage of the S. 2731, Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The 80-16 vote committed the United States to spending up to $48 billion over the next five years for the most ambitious foreign public health program ever launched by the United States. The bill passed by the House in April approved $50 billion, including $5 billion for malaria, $4 billion for tuberculosis and $41 billion for AIDS. Of the AIDS money, a proportion — $2 billion next year — would go to the international Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., saying he wanted to prevent money from being diverted to irrelevant development programs, secured language that more than half the money would go to treating AIDS victims. The White House wholeheartedly supports the bill.

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