May 7, 2009
Why HIV/AIDS is going to get worse under Obama
More news about the fiscal 2010 Federal Budget is trickling out this week. Less than expected funding for treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB is not what many public health professionals were hoping for.
In fact, some are saying President Obama has broken a campaign promise he made last year to increase by $1 billion the total amount allocated to fighting HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria.
The Center for Global Health Policy said:
Leading disease experts said President Barack Obama's 2010 budget proposal for global health falls far short of what is needed to combat the deadly twin epidemics of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Details on global health spending were released by the White House today, and a preliminary analysis indicates the President is proposing only $165 million in additional funding for bilateral AIDS as well as the US contribution to the Global Fund. "This proposal is even worse than we had feared. With this spending request, Obama has broken his campaign promise to provide $1 billion a year in new money for global AIDS, and he has overlooked the growing threat of tuberculosis," said the Center for Global Health Policy's Director, Christine Lubinski. While malaria receives a significant boost, Obama's call for a meager increase in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) budget is no match for the scope of the AIDS crisis, which killed 2 million people in 2007, nearly 5,500 a day. Obama's detailed budget blueprint comes as developing countries are struggling to preserve their fragile health systems. In several countries, drug shortages and treatment program cutbacks now threaten the lives of millions of HIV/AIDS and TB patients. This unfolding health crisis could quickly spread, as people who stop treatment become far more infectious. Treatment disruption can also lead to drug-resistance, an extremely expensive and potentially deadly development.
Meanwhile, the President has named his top person on HIV/AIDS. He is a career physician with a long-standing focus on HIV: Dr. Eric Goosby (photo above).
Click here for his bio.
Generally, the secular media has been supportive of this Clinton era appointee. POZ magazine notes:
"Dr. Goosby has always been an advocate for evidence-based prevention policy, a perspective that is much needed in our global response to the epidemic," said Kevin Robert Frost, CEO of The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). "We must do more to implement evidence-based policies such as harm reduction and age-appropriate sex education, and Dr. Goosby has a keen understanding of what needs to be done." The Global AIDS Alliance also applauded Goosby's selection, but it is urging him to fulfill a campaign pledge to double U.S. foreign assistance from $25 billion to at least $50 billion by 2012. "The president's [Fiscal Year 2010] budget request is well below what is required to keep that promise," the group said in a statement, adding that Goosby "has a unique opportunity to hold the Obama administration accountable for its campaign promises to increase funding for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS overseas."
If you follow the global HIV/AIDS story, you know that HIV is spreading much more quickly than we can spend money to fight it effectively. It is also clear that in developed nations, such as the US and key Euro-zone nations, HIV is making a comeback. Call it the Third Wave of this pandemic if you wish.
Fighting HIV globally is a money/resources game right now.
If you don't spend the money now, you will spend it later after people are infected; then, they will need drugs every day for the rest of their lives to survive. Every year, more children are getting HIV; at the moment, there are more than 2 million kids who have the virus, according to UNAIDS estimates.
I suppose this sounds harsh, but:
I know some in public health who are now wondering why we are willing to spend trillions of tax dollars to save Citibank, AIG, GM, Chrysler, yet not fully fund the global fight against HIV.
Unless adequate money is spent each and every year, HIV will continue to take more lives year after year for the imaginable future.
HIV and AIDS look like they are going to get worse during the next four years.
Click here for the full statement from the Center for Global Health Policy.