Congress Must Commit to War on AIDS/HIV

Matt Lynch | 06 Jan 2007
Wall Street Journal

I would like to thank you for highlighting the success being seen in the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS ("The Other War," Review & Outlook, Dec. 29). The administration and Congress do deserve credit for increasing the amount of money being spent to tackle these two diseases and also for the increased attention to transparency and accountability for those dollars.

However, the promising gains from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President's Malaria Initiative won't continue apace if Congress remains committed to level funding for fiscal year 2007 with a long-term continuing resolution through October 2007. Maintaining funding at 2006 levels means that nearly $1 billion approved by the Senate last fall for these vital programs will not be allocated and we will lose momentum- and lives.

Malaria kills a million people each year, mostly children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa. We know how to prevent and treat this infectious disease and have the tools to do it, including insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying with pesticides, and new anti-malarial drugs. In addition, more than 40 million people are now infected with HIV.

We cannot afford any lull in our efforts. Congress must approve $4.36 billion to fund the PMI, Pepefar, and the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. If this funding is not made available, how many lives will be unnecessarily lost between now and October?

Matthew Lynch, Ph.D.
Program Director
Global Program on Malaria
Center for Communication Programs
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University