DC Press Conference, Tuesday, June 25th, 10:30am, National Press Club
WASHINGTON (June 24, 2013)⎯As U.S. President Barack Obama embarks on an official visit to Africa, advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), will host a press conference Tuesday, June 25th, at the National Press Club in Washington. At the press conference, advocates will decry funding cuts made by the Obama administration to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the landmark US global AIDS program which has saved millions of lives worldwide. Advocates will also urge President Obama to continue to honor the United States’ commitment to the respected AIDS program. Obama—the first US president to ever cut AIDS funding—cut over $210 million from global AIDS programs in his Fiscal-Year 2013 Budget. In contrast, the Washington Post reported last week that the President’s Africa trip will cost between $60 to $100 million.
“We know that HIV treatment saves lives, prevents new infections and provides a means to end this epidemic,” said Tom Myers, General Counsel and Chief of Public Affairs for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Despite this knowledge, President Obama proposed significant cuts to PEPFAR and actually spends only 25% of the allocated funds on lifesaving treatment. This is incompatible with what we know will end the epidemic. It is clear that, if we are to reach an “AIDS free generation,” as Obama proposed, we have to fully fund PEPFAR and prioritize funding for treatment, something that the president seems unwilling or unable to do.”
“If President Obama canceled his Africa trip and redirected that estimated $60 million to $100 million cost of his trip back to global AIDS, anywhere from 218,000 to 363,000 people in Africa living with HIV/AIDS could be placed—or kept—on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment for a full year,” said Barbara Chinn, Senior Program Manager, Public Health Division, Southern Bureau for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “We urge ‘No Retreat on AIDS’ Mr. Obama, who ironically now is visiting many African countries that are being directly—and adversely—affected by his devastating cuts to PEPFAR’s lifesaving services.”
Desmond Tutu ‘Keep the Promise on AIDS’ Video Message; also, AHF’s ‘No Retreat on AIDS’ Ad to run in the Washington Blade & as a Metro Bus Shelter ad in 10 locations by the White House. At the press conference, AHF will play a video message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, recorded last summer for the ‘Keep the Promise on AIDS’ Rally & March which took place the opening day of the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. In his video message, Archbishop Tutu gently chides President Obama to “Keep the promise on AIDS.”
As a result of these global AIDS cuts and in conjunction with Obama’s African visit, AHF advocates are also running a ‘President Obama: No Retreat on AIDS’ advocacy ad in the Washington Blade (6/21/13). That ad will also appear as a transit ad in Metro bus shelters in Washington—10 bus shelter locations surrounding the White House—beginning Wednesday, June 26th.