April 14, 2010
U.S. Strains to Control Rising PEPFAR Costs
U.S. officials have asked some overseas AIDS clinics to cease new patient enrollment in antiretroviral drug programs funded through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), according to doctors and official correspondence as reported by The Boston Globe.
AIDS advocates fear President Barack Obama’s administration is scaling back PEPFAR, the most comprehensive U.S. foreign assistance program dedicated to a single disease. President George W. Bush launched the program in 2003.
According to the article, PEPFAR’s cost grew from $2.3 billion in 2004 to nearly $7 billion this year. Currently, 2.4 million HIV-positive people around the globe—most of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa—receive lifesaving medication through the program.
“People are struggling to find resources to honor the commitments we have made,’’ said U.S global AIDS coordinator Eric Goosby. “We’re not at a cap point yet. If it gets worse, we’ll have another discussion.’
Some AIDS clinics in Africa say they are already beginning to feel the cost-cutting effects. “Virtually every day, we have to turn away patients who need treatment, including breast-feeding women,” said Peter Mugyenyi, MD, a prominent AIDS specialist in Uganda. “We have to tell them, ‘There is a freeze.’”
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