We can’t ‘end AIDS’ if promises from President Obama and U.S. Congress are broken




Contact: Matthew Kavanagh, +1 202-486-2488matthew@healthgap.org


We can’t ‘end AIDS’ if promises from President Obama and U.S. Congress are broken


(Washington D.C., Kampala, Nairobi)

On World AIDS Day, the AIDS advocacy organization Health GAP criticized the Obama administration for failing to deliver on promises to release new HIV treatment and prevention targets, and questioned whether next year’s budget would reverse cuts to the U.S.’s signature President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). A year ago, President Obama pledged to set new targets for the PEPFAR program, aligned with global goals. “We’ll hold each other accountable, and we’ll continue to work to turn the tide of this epidemic together,” said President Obama.[1] A year later global goals have been set, but the U.S. contribution toward those goals remains unclear--and the PEPFAR program is running short of funding to carry out its mission.


Experts agree the overall goal the President has laid out in past years—ending the AIDS crisis in highly impacted countries in Africa—is ambitious but achievable. New global treatment goals were announced by Secretary John Kerry and five African heads of state at the U.N. General Assembly meeting this year: ensuring 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90% of these on treatment, and 90% of those “virally suppressed.” This dramatic ramp up of testing, treatment, and accompanying prevention efforts could slash new HIV infections and halt deaths, saving money in the medium term by getting control of the epidemic. The announcement today that the PEPFAR program supported theaddition of one million new people to HIV treatment programs in the last year shows dramatic scale up is possible.


At a White House World AIDS Day event today, National Security Advisor Susan Rice noted how many communities are still not reached with HIV treatment and services, and pledged to "remain focused on this fight." However, advocates questioned how that focus is going to be possible without the hard targets for the US global AIDS programs that have always guided investment—especially when funding cuts have strained the program to the breaking point. Even as essential U.S. funding to the multilateral Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has grown, the PEPFAR program has been slashed by over $600 million dollars in recent years—and reserves are now running dry. Meanwhile, PEPFAR has now been running for over a year without the guiding goals the President promised.


“How can we take the American commitment to an ‘AIDS-free Generation’ seriously when President Obama has not delivered on his own promises?” asked Asia Russell, Executive Director of Health GAP based in Kampala, Uganda. “In the coming year, U.S.-supported AIDS programs are facing a fiscal cliff—a real threat that new patients will die waiting in line for treatment, and that we will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Setting new targets, making clear what the U.S. will contribute to global goals, and restoring PEPFAR’s funding must all happen urgently if the President’s words are to be more than hollow rhetoric.”


Meanwhile, Congress has flat funded PEPFAR programs for three consecutive years—leaving front line service providers and people with HIV desperate for the increased funding required to end the epidemic. Several U.S. supported programs in Uganda and other countries in the region with the potential for dramatic program acceleration, have already been told that funding to continue to expand new life saving services in 2016 may not be available, which would result in a surge in deaths and new infections.


“It is inexcusable that Congress and the President would falter at this moment—when an investment that is the equivalent to a rounding error in the U.S. budget would help save countless lives, avert millions of new infections, and generate massive cost savings,” said Health GAP’s Maureen Milanga from Nairobi. “In Kenya, we rely on the U.S. keeping its commitments to people with HIV to leverage increased investments from our own government. If President Obama delays setting the program goals he pledged, or Congress fails to restore harmful cuts to PEPFAR, hard-hit countries around the world that are stepping up will have to trim their own plans. This will allow the epidemic to grow, and for costs to spiral out of control. We urge U.S. Congress to restore at least $300 million in cuts to PEPFAR in the 2016 spending bill, and for President Obama to at least restore the remaining additional $300 million in his next budget for 2016.”



FY 15 omnibus Gilibrand letter

Dec 1, World AIDS Day


The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski                           The Honorable Richard Shelby

Chairwoman                                                                 Ranking Member

Committee on Appropriations                                    Committee on Appropriations

Financial Services and General Government            Financial Services and General Government

Washington, DC 20510                                               Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairwoman Mikulski and Ranking Member Shelby,


The global AIDS investments by the United States are largely responsible for the unprecedented success seen in fighting HIV globally, but our work to control the pandemic is not over. The strong bipartisan support that has sustained the response so far is more critical now than ever to protect global health security and achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation.


We are writing in support of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and requesting that you continue critical and timely investments in these programs by maintaining funding for global AIDS at the FY 14 funding level. This level of support will maintain and build upon PEPFAR’s current success, and propel its Accelerating Children’s Treatment Initiative to double the number of children on life-saving medication by 300,000 worldwide, while greatly increasing support for prevention of mother to child transmission. Level funding will enable PEPFAR to sustain its leading role in halting this deadly epidemic, while making important and lasting contributions to national health systems that safeguard against other emerging health crises.


Modeling studies show that immediate and rapid scale-up of “combination prevention” programs not only save more lives, but will ultimately save money by averting new HIV infections. The PARTNER study released this year showed conclusively that achieving undetectable viral load in HIV patients reduces the risk of transmission by more than 99%. Newer, more effective anti-HIV medications with fewer side effects and long acting formulations are in the research pipeline, and leaders like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have projected that “we can end the AIDS pandemic in the next 10 years.” To succeed, Congress must maintain current global AIDS funding levels for FY 15.


PEPFAR has been enormously effective, and together with the Global Fund, is starting to turn the tide on the world’s leading infectious disease killer, while also making critical health systems and workforce investments that help foster economic and political stability on a global scale. In this challenging budget environment, we believe that a sustained U.S investment in the fight against HIV is critical, and by maintaining FY 14 level support for U.S. global HIV/AIDS activities for the coming fiscal year, we will save lives and resources in the long-term.



Sign the petition telling President Obama to invoke his executive authority to force the healthcare industry to fully protect frontline healthcare workers and patients






Dear Robin Hood Tax Campaign Supporter:

At the heart of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign is the simple idea that we should  – and can –  fully fund human needs through a tiny tax on the Wall Street speculators that have taken so much from this country and the world.  And the Robin Hood Tax has served as the sensible alternative to savage austerity measures implemented in the U.S. and globally. 

In the midst of the current Ebola outbreak, we see the results of austerity:  CDC and NIH budget cuts and a  decimated public health system – with similar attacks on public health systems happening in Africa and around the world.  Add a voraciously profit-driven private healthcare industry into the equation and we end up with a total lack of preparedness, the public at risk, and Ebola-infected nurses in the U.S.  And slashed international development and health investment leading to thousands dying and facing death in West Africa.

Sign the petition telling President Obama to invoke his executive authority to force the healthcare industry to fully protect frontline healthcare workers and patients

We also see austerity continue to cause unnecessary misery for the people of Detroit.  Speculators, predatory lenders, deregulation and a far-right-wing Michigan governor forced the city into bankruptcy and “emergency management” and now the people of Detroit are suffering inhumane household water shut-offs – if the family is even a small amount behind on utility bills.  All in the name of austerity.  Water for sanitation is the most basic protection against the spread on illness.  That point was driven home in the wake of a Detroit toddler dying last week from the deadly Enterovirus D68.  So callous are the water shutoffs, that international representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spent this past weekend in Detroit to investigate human rights violations.

See a news report and video on UN representatives investigating mass water shutoffs in Detroit

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Funding the fight to end the AIDS epidemic: instructions from a time of austerity

New Health GAP analysis published on emboldening the fight to win the end of AIDS--and combatting austerity
Asia Russell's chapter "Funding the fight to end the AIDS epidemic: instructions from a time of austerity" was published as a in the new 2014 issue of AIDS Today, released at an International HIV/AIDS Alliance event at the London School of Economics last week. 
Health GAP is proud to be part of the first edition of The Alliance's new biennial publication presenting the global state of the civil society response to AIDS. 
In Russell's chapter, she describes the untenable contradiction civil society is faced with: the possibility that communities can secure massive gains in saving lives and halting new HIV infections based on aggressive scale up of evidence based interventions and defense and promotion of human rights, while in reality budget cuts are leaving life saving programs running on empty. 
Confronting this political doublespeak and winning the resources to seize this promise requires emboldened and dauntless activism, according to Russell. Read Health GAP's prescription for action--and the roadmap for urgently needed progress--here

Wikileaks Reveals How Obama Parrots Big Pharma's Monopoly Demands in Transpacific Trade Negotiations – Access to New AIDS, TB, and Hepatitis C Medicines Threatened

PRESS RELEASE * 17 October 2014 * For Immediate Release

Health GAP (Global Access Project)

Contact: Paul Davis: +1 202 817 0129 * pdavis@healthgap.org


Wikileaks Reveals How Obama Parrots Big Pharma's Monopoly Demands in Transpacific Trade Negotiations – Access to New AIDS, TB, and Hepatitis C Medicines Threatened


Wikileaks has released a 77-page document revealing the negotiation positions of the twelve Pacific rim countries locked in negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. The leaks reveal nothing but bad news for hundreds of millions of people living both in rich and poor countries whose access to affordable medicines will be threatened by the patent extremism that the White House seeks to export and impose on TPP trading partners.


"The US Trade Representative and the Obama Administration continue to push the industry’s agenda for draconian levels of intellectual property protections that lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent monopolies on medicines," say Professor Brook K. Baker, senior policy analyst for Health GAP. "Proposed language makes it easier to get successive, secondary patents on minor changes or new uses of existing medicines, and patent term extensions that increase monopoly profits on vital medicines--but at the cost of reduced access for poor and uninsured patients."


In a surprising change from previously leaked TPP texts, the U.S. appears to be erecting new barriers against countries' use of compulsory and government use licenses that have been widely accepted as lawful for 125 years, and confirmed in the WTO’s 1995 TRIPS Agreement. In addition, the U.S. continues to push for data or regulatory monopolies that prevent marketing approval of more affordable generic products, thereby erecting a second, rigid barrier to access. For biologic drugs these data/regulatory monopolies could last as long as 12 years. In exchange for its unwavering insistence on patent maximization, the Obama Administration is offering only illusory, temporary transition periods to developing country TPP members--after which they too will be bound to the most pro-industry set of IP protections on medicines that has ever been proposed.


Activists noted that the TPP texts, prepared in secret by the Obama Administration and its industry advisors without review by patient groups or Congress, is another reason to reject White House requests on The Hill for Trade Promotion Authority or “Fast Track”. Fast Track will limit the constitutionally-mandated responsibility of Congress to regulate trade policies, and the President will be pushing for a ‘Fast-Track’ vote in the coming months. “This text illustrates the urgency with which Congress must reject President Obama’s request for ‘Fast Track’” said Health GAP’s Paul Davis. “Otherwise, the pharmaceutical industry giveaways in the TPP will make all of us sick.”


"Although the negative effect of the US's IP intransigence is most acute in poorer countries, the proposed TPP IP provisions will also tie hands of policy makers here, since several of the provisions will require changes in U.S. law," say Matt Kavanagh, also a senior policy analyst at Health GAP. “Even worse, the TPP’s investment chapter will give ‘Big Pharma’ the right to seek private arbitration against all TPP parties, including the U.S., whenever industry feels that their expectations of monopoly profits are adversely affected by changing patent and regulatory standards or by adverse judicial or administrative decisions.”


"The disclosed TPP text is a bonanza for Big Pharma, and a disaster for patients everywhere," said Asia Russell, recently appointed Executive Director of Health GAP. "In a world that continues to be threatened by unmet needs for access for medicines for conditions ranging from HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and ebola to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, the Obama administration has administered a noxious potion of monopoly protections for Big Pharma and other IP transnationals."




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