WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act, which builds on the U.S. commitment to combat the spread of these diseases across the globe. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, five years ago, the United States made an unprecedented commitment to the people of the world who suffer from HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. We pledged $15 million – and with that funding, we have:
• Provided life-saving drugs to almost 1.5 million people;
• Facilitated care for over 2 million orphans and vulnerable children; and
• Provided mother-to-child transmission prevention services during more than 6 million pregnancies.
“We have played a very real role in helping to transform HIV and AIDS from death sentences to manageable diseases.
“And, Mr. Speaker, as I said five years ago when we first passed this legislation, we must recognize that our nation has a moral obligation – and a national security interest – in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as malaria and tuberculosis.
“Today, with this legislation – the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act – we build on and boost our commitment to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Through this legislation, we make a $50 billion contribution to the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
“In addition to expanding our prior efforts, this carefully negotiated legislation will:
• Strengthen HIV-related health care delivery systems and increase health workforce capacities;
• Foster stronger relationships between HIV/AIDS initiatives and other support programs, including those that promote better nutrition and education;
• Allow HIV/AIDS testing and counseling to be provided in the U.S. Bilateral Family Planning Program; and
• Enhance prevention and treatment programs targeting women and girls.
“This bill also eliminates an ineffective requirement that 1/3 of PEPFAR prevention funds be spent on abstinence. Instead, we have directed the Administration create a ‘balanced’ approach, requiring behavioral change programs to receive 50% of the funds devoted to the prevention of sexual transmission of HIV. And, we require the Administration to report to Congress if programs in nations where the epidemic has become generalized do not adhere to this balanced approach.
“This legislation represents both commitment and compromise. It will not make everyone happy. But it does signal to the international community that the United States recognizes and accepts our moral obligation to act.
“Last year alone, 2.5 million people contracted HIV – roughly 6,800 people per day. And last year alone, 2.1 million people died of HIV.
“Global AIDS is a problem too large to fall prey to political sport.
“My very good friend, the late Chairman Lantos, noted five years ago that this health care crisis ruins families, communities and whole nations, fueling violence and bloodshed across borders.
“And thus, it is a global challenge that demands a global, humanitarian response with the United States in the lead.
“Mr. Speaker, this is a very good bill. It builds on proven outcomes. And, it deserves the support of Members on both sides of the aisle.”