Biden administration plans major cuts to AIDS relief programs in Africa

The Biden administration plans to cut funding by more than 6 percent in fiscal 2025 from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the 21-year-old program credited with saving millions of lives in Africa, a senior PEPFAR official told POLITICO.

The State Department, which oversees the program, confirmed the cuts. The department has gradually spent down a glut in the PEPFAR budget from years in which funding from Congress exceeded State’s ability to spend it, said a department spokesperson who, like the PEPFAR official, was granted anonymity to discuss sensitive program decisions. Now the glut is gone and Congress in March held the program’s $4.4 billion budget flat.

PEPFAR grantees and AIDS relief activists accuse the department of not doing enough to shield key initiatives, such as those targeting people most at-risk of the disease.

The reductions in programs for key populations — which include men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, prison inmates, sex workers and transgender people — range from 3 percent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to 29 percent in Burundi, according to preliminary figures seen by POLITICO.

Advocates said the State Department should have protected programs serving those groups, because they’re often abused in the countries where they live.

“People are getting attacked, arrested, brutally assaulted, and it’s legitimate to ask what is PEPFAR’s strategy around communities, and how is it possible to implement a robust strategy when the math is going in the opposite direction,” said Asia Russell, executive director of Health GAP, an international advocacy organization focusing on access to HIV treatment Read More on…POLITICO



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