Washington, DC. On Wednesday, February 27th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) approved by bipartisan voice vote H.R. 5501 - the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act. This new measure seeks to move the global HIV/AIDS assistance program beyond the "emergency" phase of implementation under the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and looks to make its supported programs more sustainable over the longer-term. H.R. 5501 provides for $50 billion over the next five years (2009-2013), and increases HIV/AIDS programming that specifically targets women and girls. This $50 billion allocation exceeds the $30 billion originally requested by President Bush. The Lantos-Hyde Act also attempts to strengthen health systems in those countries hardest hit by the virus that causes AIDS, and provides for HIV/AIDS programs to include linkages to food and nutrition.
"As PEPFAR was originally conceived, India was not included among the initial 15 focus countries," says Sanjay Puri, Chairman of the U.S.-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC). "We worked very closely with Members of Congress in a successful bid to get India added in 2005. This initiative has been tremendous and saved many lives around the world showing just how much good the U.S. can achieve globally when it truly acts with a moral imperative and acts decisively."
"The Lantos-Hyde Act as passed additionally drops the previous requirement that all countries receiving funding spend at least one-third of all prevention dollars on promoting the abstinence-until-marriage and be-faithful (AB) message, says Michael Taylor, Director of Government Affairs for USINPAC. "This will be seen as a major improvement in India where 86 percent of HIV cases have been contracted through sexual intercourse. This disproportionate emphasis on the AB prevention strategy was seen by many experts as not adequately addressing the reality of the situation in India."
In 2006 alone, PEPFAR funding resulted in 23,000 individuals receiving antiretroviral treatment, 692,200 pregnant women receiving prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) services, 2,900 HIV-positive pregnant women receiving antiretroviral prophylaxis for PMTCT, and 600,000 individuals receiving counseling and testing (in settings other than PMTCT).
Approximately 2.5 million adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS in India in 2006. The epidemic in India is considered a concentrated epidemic, with an estimated 1.63 million infections among high-risk groups. As mentioned above, sexual transmission accounts for the vast majority of HIV infections in India. Prostitution is a driving force of the epidemic; however, in the northeast and increasingly in cities, injecting drug use is also fueling the epidemic.
USINPAC is the political voice of 2.5 million Indian-Americans. USINPAC provides bipartisan support to candidates for federal, state and local office who support the issues that are important to the Indian-American community. For more information, go to www.usinpac.com.