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Trump signs law giving billions to HIV research and treatment

Trump signs law giving billions to HIV research and treatment

A red ribbon hangs at the White House for World HIV/AIDS day.

Donald Trump this week signed a bill that is a huge victory for the LGBTI community into law.

On Tuesday (11 December), he signed the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018. This program provides billions in funding and research for HIV prevention and treatment.

Created in 2003, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is the largest global health program targeted at one specific disease. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama previously renewed it in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

This new bill extends the program and its funding until 2023.

Trump’s previous budget proposal for 2019 suggested cutting hundreds of millions from PEPFAR. According to reports, these cuts could have led to 300,000 AIDS-related deaths and 1.75 million new infections each year.

What does PEPFAR do?

As a program, PEPFAR is the United States federal government’s answer to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. President Bush and the Global AIDS Act of 2003 first established it.

According to their website, PEPFAR currently provides antiretroviral treatment for 14.6 million people.

Since its creation, it has received rare bipartisan support.

‘This is one of those rare examples in Washington. There’s been an incredible history of bipartisanship around PEPFAR that stands outside the rancor we hear about,’ Jennifer Kates, vice president and director for global health and HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Vox.

It also works.

A 2009 study showed a significant reduction in the HIV death rate of African countries receiving PEPFAR support. The rate dropped by 10.5%.

A change in policy?

Trump’s action signing this bill into laws comes of the heels of threats to slashing other HIV funding. These other research programs, however, are completely separate from PEPFAR.

They are much smaller in scale, with most of them taking place at university labs. The threats to their funding come from pro-life advocates and lobbyists angry about the labs using fetal tissue in their research.

The President and his administration have also failed to acknowledge the LGBTI community when discussing the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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