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December 01, 2013

President signs bill to continue global HIV/AIDS effort

President Barack Obama marked World AIDS Day Dec. 2 by signing a bill to reauthorize and extend programs to continue the global fight against HIV/AIDS and announcing that $100 million would be redirected toward AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health.

P. L. 113-56 (S. 1545), the PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) Stewardship and Oversight Act, includes provisions enhancing communication and coordination among the various agencies involved and extending reporting requirements on cost per patient and funding requirements for treatments for vulnerable children. The law also modernizes the PEPFAR program’s annual report to better reflect the program’s move away from strictly U.S. support and toward greater partner-country involvement in respective recovery and prevention efforts.

In a statement on the signing of the law, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who cosponsored the legislation with Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ.), praised the program.

“PEPFAR has saved millions of lives in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, so with this legislation now signed into law, we will be able to reinforce those gains as the program transitions from an emergency U.S.-led effort to one in which recipient countries increasingly sustain the program themselves,” he said.

President George W. Bush originally proposed PEPFAR, which was enacted in 2003 and reauthorized in 2008. Since its inception, millions have received services such as testing, counseling, and antiretroviral treatment, and it is the “single most successful program to date to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally,” according to Corker’s office.

President Obama said in his public statement on Dec. 2 that two years ago he set a goal of helping 6 million of those infected receive treatment. This year, he said, this goal was not only met, but surpassed – at a total of 6.7 million people.

The president thanked those who have worked towards eliminating and preventing HIV/AIDS. He noted that the fight is not yet over, but emphasized that significant progress has been made.

 “With testing and access to the right treatment, the disease that was once a death sentence now comes with a good chance at a healthy and productive life,” he said, “and that’s an extraordinary achievement.”

The ABA has adopted numerous policies, developed primarily through the ABA AIDS Coordinating Committee established in 1987, supporting efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS across the globe as well as to provide services and treatment to those with the disease. 

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