President George W. Bush called on “wealthy nations” — including the United States — to continue funding the President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program he signed in 2003 for providing anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. Speaking at a panel discussion to commemorate World AIDS Day from Tanzania, Bush said, “I understand we’re in tight budget times,” but insisted that increasing federal funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention should remain a national priority:
BUSH: There is no greater priority — and this is something our American citizens must understand and our government must understand — there is no greater priority than living out the admonition, to whom much is given, much is required. We’re a blessed nation in the United States of America and I believe we are required to support effective programs that save lives.
According to AVERT — an international HIV and AIDS charity — funding for PEPFAR from 2009-2010, “was effectively flat-lined in contrast to the much higher previous year-on-year increases in funding, especially from 2006-2009.” “President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget included almost $7 billion for PEPFAR, representing a 1.8 percent increase on the previous year. However, according to some activists this slight increase actually represents a ‘step backwards’ due to inflation and increasing demand for treatment.” The FY2011 budget “included a 5 percent ($50 million) decrease in funding to the Global Fund compared to the previous year.”