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Public Statements

HIV/AIDS Programs

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, yesterday on World AIDS Day, the administration announced its proposed 5-year strategy for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, otherwise known as PEPFAR. The strategy is required by the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008. That is a mighty long name, but it does so much good. And it begins to shift PEPFAR from an emergency program to one focused on sustainability.

Mr. Speaker, the challenges in fighting HIV/AIDS are daunting, but not insurmountable. Over 33 million people worldwide are infected, an estimated 67 percent of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly 2.7 million people, including 430,000 children, were newly diagnosed with HIV last year. Over 14 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. AIDS is decimating an entire generation of the most productive members of society in developing countries, which will cause GDP to drop by more than 20 percent in the hardest-hit countries over the next decade.

Without effective prevention, treatment, and care efforts, the AIDS pandemic will continue to spread its mix of death, poverty, and despondency that is destabilizing governments and societies and undermining the security of entire regions.

But one need not travel to Africa or the Caribbean or Eastern Europe to witness the devastation of HIV/AIDS; we need only to look out the front door. In my home State of Florida, Mr. Speaker, an estimated 90,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS, making us third in the Nation in the number of AIDS cases.

My home county of Miami-Dade ranks second among large metropolitan areas for people living with AIDS with over 32,000 currently diagnosed. These individuals need our assistance. They are fighting this disease.

On October 21 of this year, with a bipartisan majority, we voted in Congress to reauthorize the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act. The Ryan White program has been the largest supplier of services for those living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. In the United States, over 500,000 people a year benefit from the Ryan White program. Florida alone received over $209 million in funding with Ryan White funds in 2009, and has been able to assist countless low-income Americans living with HIV/AIDS.

Fully appreciative of the challenges here at home, I am proud to have supported PEPFAR since its inception. To date, it has proven to be a highly effective and results-oriented program. For example, more than half of the 4 million people receiving lifesaving drugs in low- and middle-income countries around the world are directly supported through PEPFAR. PEPFAR has supported care for more than 10 million people affected by HIV/AIDS, including more than 10 million orphans and vulnerable children. At least 240,000 babies have been born free of HIV/AIDS thanks to PEPFAR prevention of mother-to-child transmissions.

The achievements of our bilateral programs are truly remarkable. However, the record of our multilateral organizations is problematic. While we need more robust burden sharing--particularly as the World Health Organization has revised its guidelines and vastly expanded the pool of people who require access to treatment--significant revelations of corruption in the global fund programs are cause for great concern.

Mr. Speaker, we must work together to ensure accountability, transparency, and maximum effectiveness of multilateral programs that are receiving United States support. We must work to ensure that every dime that is dedicated to PEPFAR, including our contributions to the global fund, is used for its intended purposes and delivered in the most effective, transparent, and sustainable manner possible. We must ensure that those precious resources actually reach those who are in need, without being diverted to line the pockets of unaccountable international bureaucrats or corrupt regimes.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, we must also preserve the conscience clause and promote behavior modification, particularly abstinence and fidelity, under the new strategy.

In closing, let us recommit ourselves to saving the future by helping to save lives inflicted with HIV/AIDS.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey) is recognized for 5 minutes.

(Ms. WOOLSEY addressed the House. Her remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.)


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