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Mugyenyi Urges US to Maintain Momentum with Investment in Global AIDS Funding

For Immediate Release

Uganda's Dr. Peter Mugyenyi called America's investment in the African AIDS crisis the greatest mission of compassion in recent history during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He also urged the United States to maintain the momentum of those efforts by increasing funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Members of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) were strong advocates of PEPFAR's reauthorization last summer.

A pioneer in the use of antiretroviral treatment in Africa, Dr. Mugyenyi is executive director of Uganda's Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC), the nation's largest provider of antiretroviral treatment and one of the biggest PEPFAR-supported treatment centers in Africa. Dr. Mugyenyi helped develop the framework for PEPFAR and was the First Lady's guest at the State of the Union address when it was announced in 2003.

PEPFAR's 2009 funding was significantly below levels authorized by Congress last year. Global health advocates are urging a total US commitment in 2010 of $9 billion for PEPFAR's bilateral HIV/AIDS programs and $2.7 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"PEPFAR is a wonderful gift of life to Africa and America's generosity has created tremendous hope among the people of Africa," said Dr. Mugyenyi. "With millions more still in need of antiretroviral treatment, we must continue building capacity to provide medications and deliver proven HIV prevention strategies."

"As world leaders grasp for solutions to the economic meltdown, HIV is one global catastrophe where we know what the solution is. It may not yet be clear how to save banks, but we do know how to save the lives of those living with HIV and to prevent new infections," continued Dr. Mugyenyi.

Dr. Mugyenyi's presentation at CSIS launched a week of speaking events and meetings focused on the impact of the United States' AIDS-related investments in Africa and sponsored by PHR. A recording of the speech will be available at CSIS's website on Wednesday, March 18.

PEPFAR was created in 2003 and provided $18.8 billion to support HIV prevention, care and treatment in its first five years. Since its launch, the number of people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa has increased from 50,000 to 3 million, of whom 2.1 million are supported by PEPFAR. In 2008 Congress reauthorized the program for a total of $48 billion over five years with targets of preventing 12 million new HIV infections and treating three million people worldwide. It also includes expanded efforts to fight malaria and tuberculosis.

"Key to success in reaching the PEPFAR targets is meeting its mandate to train and help retain at least 140,000 new healthcare workers," stated Pat Daoust, MSN, RN, Director of PHR's Health Action AIDS Campaign. "The magnitude of the crisis demands that we profoundly shift the playing field by building the health care workforce and infrastructure that can meet the demand."

Nearly 5 million of those living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa who need treatment still do not have access to it. The vast majority of infected pregnant women with HIV still do not have access to treatment for themselves or to prevent transmission to their babies. African children with HIV are only one-third as likely to receive antiretroviral therapy as adults.

In addition to his remarks at CSIS, Dr. Mugyenyi will participate in a Congressional briefing on health care worker shortages, meet with members of Congress, and join former US Global AIDS Coordinator Dr. Mark Dybul for a speaking engagement at Georgetown University. Entitled "It's Not Over: Global AIDS Funding in an Era of Uncertainty," the event is Wednesday, March 18, 12–1:00 pm, Healy Hall, Riggs Library, Georgetown University, 37th & O Streets, NW. Space is limited and RSVPs are required to

The Health Action AIDS Campaign at PHR mobilizes health professionals to support comprehensive HIV prevention and care initiatives that target women and injection drug users and advocates for unprecedented funds to fight global AIDS, strengthening Africa's health systems and health workforce.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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