HIV/AIDS Advocates Calling For Increased Funding For PEPFAR

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SomeHIV/AIDS advocates are calling on Congress to allocate more money thanPresident Bush has asked for the President'sEmergency Plan for AIDS Relief as lawmakers prepare to vote next week on reauthorizing the program, Inter Press Service reports. Bush has called onCongress to authorize a $30 billion, five-year extension of PEPFAR. Someadvocates are calling for a $59 billion, five-year extension of the plan toaddress HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and parallel programs aimed at reducingdisease vulnerability, Inter Press Service reports. They also havesaid that they want PEPFAR officials to expand funding for new initiatives,such as programs to strengthen local health care systems, microbicide research,and education and economic empowerment initiatives aimed at women.

Pat Daoust, director of Physicians for Human Rights' Health Action AIDS Campaign, said, "Getting drugs on theground is not the only answer. Making treatments available is not the onlyanswer." Daoust added, "We need health care workers to deliver thetreatments." PHR data show that in sub-Saharan Africa,3% of the world's health care workers serve 24% of the world's populationliving with HIV/AIDS. An estimated one million additional health workers areneeded in the region to address the needs of the population. Advocates also arecalling for "wrap-around programs" that combine HIV/AIDS preventionand treatment with routine health and social services, according to InterPress Service.


Providing no-cost primary education would be another successful HIV/AIDSintervention, some advocates have said. Pauline Muchina -- who serves in the United Nations' Global Coalition on Women andAIDS -- said thatHIV/AIDS cases decreased in Kenyawhen the government began providing no-cost education to all children. Manyadvocates have said that PEPFAR's second phase should incorporate education andeconomic empowerment initiatives to address the disproportionate HIV/AIDSburden among women in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition, advocates have said that the second phase of PEPFAR should shiftits emphasis from abstinence-only programs to other prevention methods forwomen, such as microbicides. Current prevention strategies use the ABC model --which stands for abstinence, be faithful and use condoms -- but genderinequality in many sub-Saharan African countries make it difficult for women tonegotiate condom use, according to Inter Press Service."These three are all important, but we need to look beyond" ABC,Muchina said, adding, "We need to look to prevention options that are inwomen's hands."

Among youth in the region, 75% of those living with HIV/AIDS are young womenand girls, Muchina said. Women account for about 50% of HIV cases worldwide butrepresent 61% of HIV cases in sub-Saharan Africa,Inter Press Service reports. "Until we address the overridingissues and make a substantial investment in those issues, we are never going toreach the number of people that we said we would," Daoust said (Pollock, InterPress Service, 1/29).

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