By: Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leader and a co-founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center. Bill Frist, former Senate majority leader, a heart and lung transplant surgeon, and a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Recent headlines have been filled with stories and images of parents being separated from their children by the U.S. government. This is not what our country represents.
In fact, 15 years ago, we enacted the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, to do quite the opposite, and the program has gone on to save the lives of millions, keep families intact, and provide support for millions of orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers. It represents the best of America, and we can be proud of the global legacy it has created.
PEPFAR is the single largest commitment any one country has ever made to combat a disease. It has reduced mortality in some of the most vulnerable communities in Africa and elsewhere and contributed to our security at home by making a difference overseas. PEPFAR turned the tide on a global HIV/AIDS epidemic and assisted with building global partnerships and reducing national security threats. It’s been a win-win.
Over the past 15 years, PEPFAR has provided life-saving medications to more than 14 million men, women and children; helped ensure that 2.2 million babies of HIV-positive mothers were born virus-free; and drastically reduced deaths from HIV/AIDS. The program has also helped lower the global price of life-saving antiretroviral drugs, and serves as a model of an efficient and transparent aid program.
We are a compassionate nation that stood up — and continues to stand up — for the lives of millions overseas. PEPFAR’s successes show that now is not the time for the United States to step back from global health leadership. Rather, it is time to renew our commitment.
However, the impacts of PEPFAR stretch far beyond treating a disease — in fact, U.S. national security, economic and diplomatic objectives have all benefited.
Read more in Roll Call.
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