On the 25thannual World AIDS Day (December 1), the White House announced a relocation of NIH funds towards realizing a cure for HIV. "The time is ripe to pursue HIV cure research with vigor," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a press release.
But the administration's commitment to furthering HIV/AIDS prevention does not stop there. Congress has also unanimously passed the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013—legislation that strengthens the government's commitment towards treating and eradicating HIV/AIDS abroad.
The 10-year-old PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) initiative is the main source of international HIV/AIDS assistance for countries that need it most. It also currently provides treatment support for 6.7 million people worldwide—an almost fourfold increase just from 2008 alone. The passing of the Stewardship and Oversight Act calls for a more precise and thorough reporting of the successes and pitfalls of ongoing programs and of the current needs of the international aid recipients. The reports will include how countries are implementing "prevention, treatment, and care interventions" that should ultimately aim to increase the number of patients on antiretrovirals, reduce the number of new HIV cases, and "achieve an AIDS-free generation."
PEPFAR also governs all of the U.S. financial support of the Global Fund (Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), an independent organization that has collected almost $31 billion since its inception in 2001. More than 50% of the Fund's approved grants have been used to support HIV health initiatives in over 100 countries, representing a crucial functional arm of the U.S. government's worldwide commitment towards AIDS eradication. However, the United States has limited its contributions to not exceed 33% of the total Global Fund donations. The recently passed Stewardship and Oversight Act maintains this cap, which serves to foster international collaboration and leverage support. "The United States will contribute $1 for every $2 pledged by other donors over the next three years, up to $5 billion total from the United States. And the United Kingdom has made a similar promise," said President Obama.
Ultimately, on this past World AIDS Day, the president stressed both leadership and collaboration as necessary factors for meeting the goals of the reinforced anti-AIDS health initiatives both at home and abroad. "If the United States wanted to be the global leader in combating this disease, then we needed to act like it—by doing our part and by leading the world to do more together."