Washington, D.C. (June 27, 2017)—AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) staff, clients and advocates pounded the halls of the U.S. Congress on June 20-23 shoring up bipartisan support for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The U.S. helps fund critically needed lifesaving antiretroviral treatment for 11.5 million people living with HIV in developing countries through these programs.
In over 45 separate meetings on Capitol Hill, an AHF delegation from Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, United States and Zambia met with members and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate’s Committees on Appropriations. Upon the recommendation of the respective committees, Congress will ultimately decide on the funding levels for PEPFAR and the Global Fund.
At each meeting, the AHF team reported that the two lifesaving programs enjoy broad and deep support from Republicans and Democrats, moderates, conservatives and liberals in both houses of Congress.
Ten visitors from outside the U.S. divided into three groups, led by AHF’s advocacy colleagues. The groups distributed position papers and letters of support for the two programs. They also shared personal stories of how U.S. government’s leadership in the international HIV response has been hugely successful in saving lives. Despite such tremendous success in fighting AIDS, over 20 million people living with HIV still need treatment, and every year over one million people die of AIDS-related causes.
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Ambassador-At-Large Deborah Birx, M.D. met with the AHF delegation the day before the meetings on Capitol Hill. Ambassador Birx gave a compelling presentation about the work of PEPFAR and where it needs to focus in the future. After her presentation, AHF client from Kigali, Rwanda, Uwase Nadage Munyaburanga presented Ambassador Birx with thank-you cards from AHF patients to her colleagues at PEPFAR, expressing heartfelt gratitude for the their dedication to fighting AIDS around the world.
“The United States government plays a remarkably important and admirable role in the global response to the epidemic and we can’t take that for granted—this is something the American people should be very proud of,” said Terri Ford, AHF Chief of Global Advocacy, Policy and Marketing. “We were honored to host our colleagues and clients, who are on the front lines of the response on the ground. I’m confident our advocacy, along with many others, will prevail in keeping the United States in a strong leadership position as we work to end the AIDS epidemic.”
Ford was joined in Washington, D.C. by the following delegation members: AHF Assistant General Counsel Jeff Blend, AHF consultant Scott Evertz, AHF African Bureau Senior Manager for Communications and Public Relations Oluwakemi Gbadamosi, AHF Caribbean Regional Director Dr. Kevin Harvey, AHF National Director of Advocacy John Hassell, AHF Uganda Medical Officer Dr. Audrey Kisaka, AHF South Africa Nursing Manager Cynthia Luthuli, AHF Zambia client Chrisbey Ruth Matiya, AHF General Counsel and Chief of Public Affairs Tom Myers, AHF client and Kigali Hope Program Manager Uwase Nadege Munyaburanga, AHF Kenya board member and Executive Director of National Empowerment Network for People Living with HIV in Kenya Nelson Juma Otwoma, AHF India Country Program Director Dr. Sam Prasad, AHF Asia Bureau Chief Dr. Chhim Sarath and AHF Senior Director for Global Advocacy and Policy Loretta Wong.