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President Bush Requests $5.4 Billion for PEPFAR in 2008

This week, President Bush presented his budget for fiscal year 2008. It includes a request for $5.4 billion for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR is now three years old. It was originally proposed as a five-year, $15-billion program.

The Bush administration says the latest budget request for PEPFAR reaffirms “the United States’ historic leadership in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.”

Dr. Tom Kenyon is the principal deputy US Global AIDS coordinator. He told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua what it would mean if Congress approves the $5.4 billion request for next fiscal year.

“It certainly helps us to make it possible to reach the original goals, which are to get two million people, in partnership with host countries, onto anti-retroviral therapy, to prevent seven million infections and to provide care and support to 10 million individuals living with HIV, including orphans and vulnerable children. So having those resources certainly makes it very bright, we think, for reaching those goals by the end of this five-year initiative,” he says.

Asked whether the $5.4 billion request put PEPFAR on track for its $15 billion goal, Kenyon says, “It most certainly does. This budget request puts the emergency plan on track to exceed its original commitment of $15 billion over five years with now a five-year total of more than $17.7 billion.”

Over the last year years, Kenyon says PEPFAR has accomplished much. “First and foremost, we’ve established partnerships with many countries, As you know, we have 15 emphasis countries, but we work in more than 100 countries. And those partnerships are the essence of our success in collaboration with the countries that we work in.

“But to put it in numbers, we’ve helped to provide along with others, services to more than six million pregnant women in order to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, which is a very important and significant source of infection in the countries where we operate. We believe that in doing this, we’ve helped to prevent more than 100,000 infants from acquiring HIV infection during the pregnancy and birth process. In addition, we’ve helped to provide care for nearly 4.5 million people living with HIV, including care for more than two million orphans and vulnerable children. And have provided counseling and testing services to 18.7 million men, women and children.”

On the treatment side, PEPFAR has helped provide anti-retroviral drugs to 822,000 people.

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