SEATTLE, Washington — Former U.S. President George W. Bush signed The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) into law in 2003. However, since then, it has grown greatly and the U.S. government has reimplemented it multiple times. PEPFAR is a substantial commitment on behalf of the U.S. to combat the AIDS epidemic. In 2018, the Obama administration reimplemented the bill for five more years, providing AIDS relief to millions of people. In 2023, Congress will vote on the bill once again and it will reevaluate the successes of the PEPFAR Extension.
History of PEPFAR
In President Bush’s State of the Union in January 2003, he announced his plans for PEPFAR. Congress quickly passed the bill as it became law in the same year. Since its implementation, the U.S. has invested $70 billion into the program and has helped over 50 different nations worldwide. It has surpassed every other financial commitment by a nation in the world as it sits at more than $90 billion in aid.
Before the extension, the program provided a substantial amount of aid and helped decrease the damage of the AIDS epidemic. Since its inception, it has saved roughly 18 million people and trained hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers to help eradicate the disease. More specifically, it has helped a million women as it doubled the rate of cervical cancer screenings for women with HIV. Looking forward, Congress is aiming for more successes through the PEPFAR extension.
Throughout President Obama’s two terms, he was a proponent for addressing the AIDS epidemic as it was one of his goals to create a generation free from AIDS. The Borgen Project is also a huge supporter of combatting AIDS as it vocalized its support and advocated on behalf of the bill’s extension. When Obama signed the PEPFAR extension, he was advancing this agenda as the aim of the bill prolongs the treatment and services to those in need. The program received wide support by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress allowing for the bill to pass unanimously in December 2018. The bill will expire at the end of 2023, allowing for many more successes of the PEPFAR extension.
Future Impact and Successes of the PEPFAR Extension
Since the implementation of the bill, there have been even more successes of the PEPFAR extension. For instance, in 2019 alone, the bill gave almost 80 million people access to HIV testing. Further, in the years 2018-2020, the PEPFAR extension has provided treatment for HIV to 1.2 million more men.
One can see PEPFAR’s future potential through the vast amount of funding it will receive in the forthcoming years. For instance, it plans to spend $400 million in 2021 through its partnership with DREAMS, an AIDS program helping females worldwide. The investment will also go towards premeditative measures for AIDS such as education. Also, the total budget for the extension in 2020 is almost $7 billion, with about 77% of the funds going directly towards HIV.
Overall, there have been many successes of the PEPFAR extension and the original bill. For the past two decades, the bill has saved numerous lives and helped millions of those in need with their health.
– Erica Burns