Trump’s Budget Would Cut Promising Research and Live-Saving Interventions for HIV

May 24, 2017

AVAC’s Executive director Mitchell Warren today released the following statement on the proposed 2018 budget from the Trump Administration:

President Trump’s 2018 budget request delivered to Congress yesterday would be a disaster for people living with HIV and for those at risk of HIV infection here in the US and around the world.

The budget, entitled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” would, in fact, devastate health, development and research programs that are hallmarks of America’s profound commitment to advancing knowledge and saving lives at home and abroad. AVAC stands in solidarity with many partner organizations in calling on Members of Congress to restate the long-standing bipartisan support for a comprehensive domestic and global AIDS response.

No HIV treatment, prevention or research program supported by the US government is left untouched in the proposed budget. Critical global and domestic health, development and poverty programs also face devastating cuts. Evidence has shown us that the HIV pandemic is driven by poverty, gender inequality and violence, as are virtually all disease outbreaks. The spectrum of proposed cuts in this budget create conditions where HIV and other health threats will thrive, as America’s superb research and implementation capacities are hobbled and unable to respond.

  • The US PEPFAR program and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria—to which the US is a major contributor—together provide the bulk of funding for HIV prevention, treatment and care programs in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world. Both would receive significant cuts of approximately 15 percent in this proposed budget. These proposed reductions would have a disastrous and deadly impact on the fight to bring the AIDS epidemic to a conclusive end, as would cuts in related areas including family planning, reproductive health, and scientific research.
  • The proposed budget cuts USAID’s global health programs by a devastating 50 percent, and eliminates long-term investments in critical vaccine and microbicide research.
  • A $7 billion cut to the NIH includes a $1.1 billion cut to NIAID–almost a quarter of that Institute’s budget – which would likely have a devastating impact on HIV research overall, research and development of vaccines and other new prevention options, and scientific innovation.
  • Cuts to the CDC, the elimination of NIH’s Fogarty International Center, cuts to Medicaid and the Ryan White Program and other devastating and irrational cuts to the budget make it clear that this is nothing less than an assault on the health of citizens everywhere—in the US and abroad.

The budget proposal asserts the US government will continue treatment for “all current HIV/AIDS patients” under PEPFAR. PEPFAR has succeeded by increasing the number of people on treatment every year and providing critical funding for primary prevention programs. Increasing the number of people on treatment every year has contributed to the ambitious global goal of curbing the epidemic and of moving toward universal access to HIV treatment, a fundamental human right. Simply maintaining current treatment rolls is poor science and a poor investment of US resources. We know an increase in antiretroviral treatment (ART) programs with a parallel unstinting investment in additional HIV prevention programs, including voluntary medical male circumcision, condom programs and oral PrEP, will have significant impact on the pandemic. The proposed budget approach, which threatens prevention as well as treatment, will not.

The US government is the largest funder of HIV and global health programs and research. After years of prudent investment, we have seen amazing dividends in lives saved, families kept together, communities revitalized and economies boosted. Global health and HIV programs have enjoyed bipartisan support throughout the previous Bush and Obama Administrations. We call on the Congress to remember why these programs have been consistently supported and ensure they are reinstated in the 2018 budget.