Smith HIV/AIDS Bill Goes to White House
At the White House World AIDS Day event on Thursday, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) praised the life-saving success of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) after his five-year, $30 billion extension of PEPFAR passed the Senate on Wednesday.
“The Trump Administration’s 2018 PEPFAR Report to Congress highlights the urgency of the HIV/AIDS crisis and affirms that we must continue to be proactive in addressing this epidemic,” Smith said. “I am happy to be able to say that Congress is acting.”
“Just before Thanksgiving, a bill I introduced along with my Democratic cosponsor Congresswoman Barbara Lee, H.R. 6651, the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018, passed out of the House with strong bipartisan support. HR 6651 extends authorization of PEPFAR for the next five years. With funding that currently stands at $6 billion per year, that means $30 billion over the life of the extension period dedicated to saving lives around the world,” Smith said.
The White House event highlighted the role of faith-based organizations and partners in HIV/AIDS response, on the 15th Year Anniversary of PEPFAR. Begun under President George W. Bush, PEPFAR has continued under both Republican and Democratic administrations, saving an estimated 16 million lives with 13 countries on track to control their HIV-AIDS epidemic by 2020. Approximately 14 million people in Africa have received treatment for HIV and AIDS under the program, and around 2.2 million babies have been born HIV-free to HIV-positive mothers.
“As we observe World AIDS Day on Saturday, we must be reminded of the great achievements that PEPFAR has accomplished,” Smith stated. “Substantial growth has been measured in communities that once struggled with the plaguing death that HIV/AIDS causes. Well-founded feelings of safety and hope and optimism have been brought back to families thanks to PEPFAR’s investments in sustainable and effective health care systems. PEPFAR has greatly enhanced the global health security of some of the most vulnerable communities.”
Smith’s bipartisan PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 would extend the life-saving program for five years and $30 billion. It passed the House on November 13 and passed through the Senate on Wednesday evening.