Each year on the first of December, World AIDS Day, a red ribbon hangs on the North Portico of the White House to commemorate the 35 million people who have lost their lives to the disease. This year, advocates and public health experts will be hoping the country continues not just that symbolical gesture, but the U.S. commitment to investing in the continued fight against AIDS worldwide.
Two months ago, global leaders pooled their financial resources in support of a plan to save eight million lives in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The U.S. came forward with a matching commitment of up to $4.3 billion over three years for that plan, pledging to put in one dollar for every two dollars committed by others. But it will fall to the new Congress to actually make good on this commitment and deliver those financial resources in the years ahead.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
At the global gathering in September, world leaders threw their support behind the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the leading financier of the fight against the three diseases. The Global Fund sought $13 billion to support countries around the world to tackle these epidemics, preventing 300 million new infections and saving 8 million lives by 2020.
Thanks to the commitments of the U.S. and other governments, the Global Fund now has the resources to start putting that plan into action. It will do this by supporting countries to scale up proven treatments, target the people who need it most, and work with local communities to make sure every dollar is maximized.
When the Global Fund began in 2002, AIDS was ripping through communities worldwide. TB and malaria were rampant. At that point, the Global Fund was supporting countries just to help stop as many deaths as possible. Since then, this partnership has saved 20 million lives. Now because of major innovations and scientific advances, this work is not just about preventing deaths anymore. It’s about ending all three epidemics once and for all.
U.S. Leadership in the Fight
Since the Global Fund’s inception, the U.S. has played a leading role in the partnership, including providing a full one-third of the Global Fund’s financial resources. U.S. support for the Global Fund has always been uniquely bipartisan, crossing party lines when often not much else could.
President Bush, who also launched the transformational President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), made a founding pledge to the Global Fund early in his presidency, and continued strong support for the international initiative throughout his time in office. President Obama made three multi-year commitments to the Global Fund, including this year’s pledge to continue providing one-third of the resources for the Global Fund’s next three-year plan.
In Congress, a similar pattern follows: as control of the chambers has shifted back and forth between parties over the last 15 years, U.S. support for the Global Fund has been a constant. The most recent U.S. commitment to the Global Fund followed a call for U.S. leadership in this fight from a bipartisan group of more than a third of the Senate. It now falls to congressional leaders to actually fulfill the one-third commitment and build on it in the years ahead.
The last two Administrations and both parties in Congress have established the United States as a leader in this fight. It will be up to our new leaders to reaffirm this commitment and help move us closer to the end of the epidemics for good.