United States Congress launches new bi-partisan caucus to strengthen the US’s response to AIDS
15 September 2011
The United States Congress has launched a new bi-partisan caucus to strengthen the US’s response to AIDS both at home and around the world and maintain its position as a global leader on AIDS. The launch of the bipartisan Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus was announced at an event in Washington DC by the three Caucus co-chairs; Congresswoman Barbara Lee; Congressman Trent Franks and Congressman Jim McDermott.
The co-chairs were joined, among others, by the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, who commended the US on its continued commitment to HIV. "The United States' global leadership and the generosity of the American people have made a profound and positive difference in the AIDS epidemic. This sustained commitment, across political administrations for more than a decade, has saved millions of lives. And I am counting on the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus to continue to play a critical role in shaping the future of the AIDS response."
The United States has played a leading role in the global responding to HIV and its commitment is the largest by any country for a single disease. In 2003 President George W. Bush launched the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which now has partnerships in 30 countries worldwide and has committed nearly US$ 39 billion to HIV and TB since its inception.
The United States' global leadership and the generosity of the American people have made a profound and positive difference in the AIDS epidemic
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé
In 2010, PEPFAR estimates that its funding and programmes directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 3.2 million men, women and children worldwide.
“We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that we have HIV under control, because we don’t,” said Congressman Jim McDermott, Co-Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. “Despite the enormous progress we have made over 30 years, we still have no vaccine, and treatment remains out of reach for so many. We have to keep our eye on the ball and continue pushing forward: prevention, treatment, and finding a vaccine must remain our focus.”
The caucus currently has around 60 members and will focus its work on some key thematic areas; sustaining U.S. leadership and funding for HIV; promoting scientific advances; strengthening U.S. domestic programs and expanding the role of faith-based organizations. It will also provide opportunities to galvanize new leadership in preparation for the International AIDS Conference to be held in Washington, D.C. in July 2012.
U.S. Global AIDS Ambassador Eric Goosby, Jeff Crowley of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, Michael Gerson from the Washington Post, and a number of advocates from the faith community and the U.S. domestic AIDS advocacy community also participated in the launch.