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PHR Holds Rally for HIV/AIDS Funding

Every 9.5 minutes there is one new HIV infection in the US and forty-five new infections worldwide. This is unacceptable.Earlier today, I joined a group of medical students, health professionals and other concerned citizens to rally for increased funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the US and around the world.

1-2-3-4, AIDS funding, we want more

we chanted while marching toward the Massachusetts State Capitol Building.

5-6-7-8, AIDS funding cannot wait.

And that’s when the torrential rain began. The group clustered together, juggling signs and umbrellas while continuing to chant. We only paused the chanting to take out our cell phones for a group call to Congressional leaders.This week, Congressional appropriators are in the process of setting funding levels for global and domestic HIV/AIDS programs. Levels under consideration are drastically short of what is needed to fulfill US commitments to fight AIDS at home and abroad. We are already hearing about cutbacks from our partners in Uganda and we must act now to ensure that critical programs are fully funded. The Senate Appropriations Committee is schedule to consider global AIDS funding levels tomorrow, Wednesday, July 8.President Obama’s new global health initiative calls for $63 billion over six years for all global health programs. Physicians for Human Rights estimates that the HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria programs supported by PEPFAR alone need at least $60 billion over six years. PHR also estimates that a total of at least $95 billion over six years is needed for all of the global health initiatives outlined in President Obama’s plan and to meet all US global health commitments. We have the resources and the responsibility. We don’t have to choose between HIV/AIDS programs and other global health initiatives.The rally is part of a coordinated effort of dozens of HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations across the country calling on leaders in Congress to strengthen US commitments to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. From June 30-July 7, activists have called upon Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to increase funding levels. The event today in Boston was co-sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights, the American Medical Student Association, Our Bodies, Ourselves and Health Care for All.

The rally ended with one last round of chanting and a rousing group cheer. As our group began to disperse, the rain stopped and the sun came out.

You can join our efforts today by calling on Congress to fully fund HIV/AIDS programs. Pick up your phone and call Senator Reid, Speaker of the House Pelosi, and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.