U.S. International Affairs Budget

With Progress on HIV/AIDS, Now’s Not the Time to Stall

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

There’s good news in the fight against HIV/AIDS – treatment and prevention are working. People living with HIV are living longer and AIDS-related deaths are declining with access to antiretroviral therapy.

A new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that 2011 was a game-changer for AIDS response with “unprecedented progress in science, political leadership and results.” The report also shows that new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic. New HIV infections were reduced by 21percent since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses decreased by 21 percent since 2005.

In sum, treatment has averted 2.5 million deaths since 1995.

“Even in a very difficult financial crisis, countries are delivering results in the AIDS response,” says Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. “We have seen a massive scale up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere.”

According to UNAIDS and WHO estimates, 47 percent (6.6 million) of the estimated 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries were accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapy in 2010, an increase of 1.35 million since 2009.

The 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report also highlights that there are early signs that HIV treatment is having a significant impact on reducing the number of new HIV infections.

Yet, around the globe, there were an estimated 34 million people living with HIV in 2010. We must keep making progress, and U.S. international aid is one of the keys to that progress.

A new analysis by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research details the potential human impact of proposed congressional cuts to the U.S. International Affairs Budget. According to the analysis, proposed cuts to global health investments would have minimal impact on U.S. deficit reduction over nine years but would have “devastating human impacts in terms of morbidity and mortality around the world.”

An estimated cut of 11.07 percent across the board in FY13 alone would result in

  • 29,000 more infants born with HIV because of reduced funding to Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programs
  • food, education and livelihood assistance not available to 419,000 children through PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief)
  • funding to treat 403,000 people for HIV/AIDS not available.

Those are sobering statistics to contemplate, especially coming on the heels of a year with tangible improvements in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

On World AIDS Day, let’s resolve to keep moving forward. The goals are clear:
zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Read more about how ChildFund is helping reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and youth.

Will You Speak Out for Children?

by Rory Anderson, ChildFund’s Director of External Relations

A vote on the International Affairs budget is likely to come before the U.S. Senate early next week. ChildFund and numerous other international development organizations believe further cuts will jeopardize the lives of children who already live in poverty.

Please take a moment to check the list of key senators to contact and be a voice for vulnerable children. An email or call from you today, this weekend or on Monday will really help. We’ve included the senator’s phone and fax numbers as well as the email of the lead staff on foreign policy. Senate offices do monitor and tabulate the feedback and concerns of their constituents. Even if they don’t immediately respond, your e-mail is registered, and your voice is heard. Thank you for speaking out for children.

When calling your senator:

  • Call the phone number above and tell the person answering the phone that you are a constituent from (your hometown).
  • Say that you’re calling to urge your Senator to oppose all additional cuts to the International Affairs Budget.
  • Use the additional talking points below if you’d like.

Talking Points on Senate Action on the FY12 International Affairs Budget

  • International Affairs programs help tackle the root causes of poverty, conflict and extremism, respond to humanitarian crises, and also build new markets for U.S. goods and services.
  • But these programs are being forced to shoulder disproportionately deep budget cuts – cuts that are not in our nation’s best interests.
  • The International Affairs Budget absorbed nearly 20 percent of the total spending cuts in the final FY11 spending agreement earlier this year, even though it’s only 1.4 percent of the budget.
  • With the FY12 State-Foreign Operations bill on the Senate floor, the International Affairs Budget is vulnerable to amendments that would make additional deep cuts.
  • These amendments, if adopted, could result in the steepest cuts to International Affairs programs since the height of the Cold War.
  • These are real cuts with harmful consequences, especially for vulnerable children – the children whom ChildFund serves.
  • We urge you to oppose any cutting amendments to the FY12 State-Foreign Operations bill during Senate floor consideration.

Suggested Text When E-mailing Your Senator (please personalize and share your own thoughts):

Date ___________

Dear Senator __________:

As Congress and the Super Committee work to reduce our nation’s deficits, I respectfully urge you to oppose any cuts to the International Affairs budget, which funds programs for hungry and poor children around the world.

Worldwide, nearly 1 billion people are hungry, and one child dies every 3.6 seconds from poverty, hunger and preventable diseases. This isn’t the time for Congress to cut programs that provide vital assistance to those in need.

Programs for hungry and poor people make up only a fraction of the federal budget, but they have a tremendous impact. Yet the International Affairs Budget that funds these programs absorbed nearly 20 percent of the total spending cuts in the final FY11 spending agreement earlier this year, even though it’s only 1.4 percent of the budget. A vote on the International Affairs budget, which will come up for a vote in the Senate any day, is vulnerable to amendments that would make additional deep cuts.

International poverty-focused development assistance reduces the likelihood of conflict and strengthens our national security. Moreover, cuts to poverty-focused development assistance will restrict our ability to respond to humanitarian emergencies, such as the ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa.

We must care for and protect the most vulnerable children. As you consider deficit-reduction proposals, I ask you to take a balanced and fair approach and consider all areas of the budget, including revenues. Please form a circle of protection around funding for hungry and poor people at home and abroad.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Your Address

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