The U.S. Senate today passed bipartisan legislation to strengthen and continue the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act (S. 1545), sponsored by U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) extends authorities and strengthens oversight for this landmark program to combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
"Today we demonstrated our commitment to maintaining PEPFAR's proven track record of success. PEPFAR has saved millions of lives and has been instrumental in turning the tide of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic," said Menendez. "Extending this vital program will bolster our efforts to combat HIV/AIDS as PEPFAR transitions from an emergency response to a sustainable effort that embraces greater partner country ownership."
Ten years after it was founded, PEPFAR is the largest international effort a nation has ever undertaken to combat a single disease. When the program began, HIV/AIDS was an overwhelming epidemic that threatened to destroy economies, destabilize nations, and eliminate an entire generation of people across Africa.
Thanks to our efforts through PEPFAR, almost 6 million people are now receiving life-sustaining treatment, more than 11 million pregnant women received HIV testing and counseling last year, and this year the one-millionth baby was born HIV-free due to treatment. PEPFAR has also provided care and support to nearly 15 million people, including more than 4.5 million orphans and vulnerable children. Although significant progress has been made, there is still much work to be done before our shared goal of an AIDS free generation is achieved.
The PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act extends critical authorities for an additional five years and updates program oversight to ensure access to essential prevention and treatment services continue. Key provisions in the legislation include:
- Coordination by the Inspectors General: Extends the requirement for the State, USAID, and HHS Inspectors General to develop annual, joint oversight/audit plans. This provision has improved coordination between State, USAID, and CDC, enhancing program efficiency and results.
- Cost Studies: Extends a reporting requirement intended to capture per-patient costs for PEPFAR-supported treatment and care. This is a key tool for monitoring and improving treatment costs.
- U.S. Participation in the Global Fund: Extends the current 33 percent limitation on U.S. contributions to the Global Fund, continues proportional withholding requirements related to State Sponsors of Terrorism, and updates Global Fund management reforms. The 33 percent cap serves as an effective tool for leveraging funding from other donors.
- Effective Annual Reporting. Modernizes the existing annual report on PEPFAR to better reflect the program's movement away from strictly U.S. support and toward greater partner country ownership. As PEPFAR transitions from an emergency plan to a program focused on building country ownership and ensuring sustainable results, the information needed to conduct effective oversight has changed significantly. The reporting requirements from the office of the Global AIDS Coordinator have been updated to reflect this transition.
- Protected Funding for Treatment and Orphans and Vulnerable Children. Extends existing funding requirements for treatment and orphans and vulnerable children.
The bipartisan PEPFAR program was announced by President George W. Bush in 2003 and authorized by Congress a few months later. It was reauthorized in 2008 with broad bipartisan support. The PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act extends for an additional five years provisions that would otherwise expire under current law.