Tuesday, May 18, 2010

GOP Senators to Goosby:
What About HIV Drugs for Uganda?

(The U.S. ambassador for global HIV efforts, Dr. Eric Goosby.)

At a time of loudly reverberating silence from AIDS Inc about the failure of President Obama to present the America public with his National AIDS Strategy, let's laud this development. This excerpted report is from Science Speaks:

Five Republican U.S. senators recently sent a pointed letter to US Global AIDS Ambassador Eric Goosby, MD, asking for a clear response to reports that patients are being denied HIV therapy in Uganda and that clinicians elsewhere are “being forced to ration lifesaving treatment.”

The letter, signed by Sens. Michael Enzi of Wyoming, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and others, says the lawmakers are increasing concerned “that these reports signal a troubling direction of the current PEPFAR strategy.”

“…[T]he clear innovation of PEPFAR is its focus on treatment,” the senators write. “After all, treatment is prevention. Reductions in viral loads reduce the likelihood of individuals spreading the disease. Treatment also reduces transmission among partners, diminishes mother-to-child transmission, and keeps those with HIV in the medical system where they can receive proper counseling. The availability of treatment is integral to promoting HIV/AIDS testing and early diagnosis. After all, how can we continue to promote testing when the program is not able to provide treatment?”

Yeah, what the hell is going on with America's commitment to lead a life-extending drug program for HIV poz people around the planet?

It's disgusting that the domestic AIDS Inc orgs aren't raising public objections over delays with the White House delivering a National AIDS Strategy, and they and their global AIDS Inc counterparts are in mute mode over the Obama administration not keeping all of our international HIV drug delivery commitments.

The GOP senators also note that in the reauthorization of PEPFAR, Congress specifically mandated that more than half of bilateral AIDS money be spent on lifesaving medical care for HIV positive patients and said they were concerned that the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator might not be “taking adequate steps to meet these statutory requirements.”

This is good. Senators asking questions and insisting on some very real public accountability. Click here to read the full letter.

They ask Dr. Goosby to answer a half-dozen or questions, including the total number of people expected to receive treatment in 2010; the treatment allocation, as a percentage of PEPFAR’s budget, in FY2009; and an explanation of PEPFAR’s policy on whether savings achieved in treatment programs can be used to further expand treatment slots.

That last item is particularly worrisome among some advocates who have heard that implementers are being told any cost-efficiencies they find in their treatment programs cannot be used to add patients to the rolls.

As an American taxpayer concerned about our AIDS promises and programs to people with HIV and AIDS everywhere, I want Goosby to quickly respond to the GOP senators.

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