August 7, 2015

Devex recently published Right things, right places, right targets — right now, an article by policy staff at amfAR, AVAC, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, IDSA and ONE, calling on the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to set new treatment and prevention targets. The article notes that the last PEPFAR targets, which were met ahead of schedule, expired in 2013.

Why is this important, when UNAIDS just announced that 15 million people are now on life-saving antiretroviral treatment? Isn’t the global response getting there? Although many things contributed, it is not insignificant that “15 million people on ART by 2015” was a target. Just as it is not insignificant that targets supported two biomedical prevention methods— voluntary medical male circumcision and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Without these targets, it is highly unlikely that PEPFAR would have quadrupled the number of medical circumcision procedures it supported or been able to announce the millionth baby born HIV-free.

As AVAC said earlier this year targets matter, particularly prevention targets, which too often lack precision. Targets need to be resourced, audacious, achievable, measurable, accountable, politically supported and a collective priority—see Prevention on the Line for our “Anatomy of A Target” infographic and an analysis of targets that have worked in the past.

Right things, right places, right targets— right now makes the point that the time for new targets is now with the upcoming adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September—Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Devex article warns:

  • For PEPFAR targets to be absent from these discussions is a glaring omission and a missed opportunity — particularly in light of the program’s transformative role in improving the global health landscape and how integral it will be to any future HIV and AIDS successes.
  • There is still time to fix this problem, but the clock is ticking. It is time for PEPFAR and the White House to establish new treatment and prevention targets to guide the years ahead. These targets should be announced ahead of September’s UN meetings, so that PEPFAR’s vision can be included in and help shape the global dialogue. Every week and every month that goes by, we risk losing momentum. And in the fight against AIDS, we have no time to lose.

As world leaders meet in New York in September, it would be inspiring and powerful if PEPFAR provided the leadership it so often has provided in leading the way.