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Global AIDS bill: World Vision calls for bipartisan reauthorization to continue child-focused work

We advocate for increased contribution to the AIDS fight to maintain and increase effective programs that save the lives of children.

February 2008

World Vision urges members of Congress to quickly produce a bipartisan reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which is set to expire in September. The reauthorization should set aside 10 percent of funds for the care of orphans and other children left vulnerable by AIDS, the greatest global humanitarian crisis of our time.
World Vision urges members of Congress to quickly produce a bipartisan reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which is set to expire in September. The reauthorization should set aside 10 percent of funds for the care of orphans and other children left vulnerable by AIDS, the greatest global humanitarian crisis of our time.
Photo © 2007 Laura Reinhardt/World Vision
While Congress negotiates the reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), World Vision, our supporters, and others who speak out for AIDS-affected children are asking lawmakers to swiftly reauthorize a strong, bipartisan version of the bill that sets aside 10 percent of funds to care for orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS.

Congress must act

Established in 2003, PEPFAR is the vehicle through which the U.S. government contributes to the global effort to fight AIDS, but it is set to expire in September. More than $15 billion has been committed over the past five years, with $6 billion committed in 2008 alone. During the State of the Union address on Jan. 28, President Bush called on Congress to continue HIV and AIDS funding with an additional $30 billion over the next five years.

Now, Congress must act.

However, the president's request only maintains current funding levels of $6 billion per year. This is not enough to achieve universal access to treatment, prevention, and care, as leaders of the G8 countries committed to in 2005. Congress needs to increase PEPFAR funding to $10 billion per year by 2013 to do our share to help achieve the universal access goal. World Vision calls upon Congress to take the following steps:

  • Increase the U.S. financial contribution to the global AIDS fight to more than $6 billion a year;
  • Move swiftly to reauthorize PEPFAR;
  • Commit to setting aside 10 percent for orphans and vulnerable children;
  • Support programs that prevent spread of the disease by helping change the behaviors of young people, including encouraging abstinence and faithfulness.

Video: Maggie's story

Video: Maggie's story Watch a video about this 9-year-old girl in Zambia, orphaned by the AIDS crisis and, at her young age, left with no living family members except her elderly great-grandmother. (Running time: 3:37)

Children suffer the most

As AIDS destabilizes families and entire societies, children are left without the care and support necessary to grow up, survive, and thrive. As a child-focused Christian organization, World Vision is committed to caring for the most vulnerable and marginalized who are impacted by the AIDS crisis. Children suffer the most.

Children like Musekia, who lost both parents to AIDS at the tender age of 4.

As part of Kenya's nomadic Maasai community, the odds were against her. The Maasai culture traditionally employs several practices that are harmful to girls, including female genital mutilation, early marriages of young girls to elderly men, and polygamy — practices that increase the likelihood of contracting HIV early in life.

Initially, after the loss of her parents, Musekia's aunt cared for her; but her aunt had also recently lost her husband and was already caring for several children, so raising another proved to be a great challenge.

"Musekia's story moved me with passion as I witnessed her parents succumb, leaving their only daughter vulnerable," recalls Rev. Faith Kapakio, a priest with the Anglican Church of Kenya in Mashuru.

Local community empowered

In 2000, World Vision began to offer workshops in Mashuru to raise awareness about the pandemic and empower people to support and care for their neighboring children and families. World Vision also began to provide anti-retroviral drugs, promote home-based care, and even transport to health facilities those who were HIV-positive and needed treatment.

"Before World Vision came here, life was horrible. We had no one to help us," recalls Kapakio. She decided to participate in World Vision's training to make a difference in her struggling community.

Through prayer and consideration, Kapakio concluded that she must try to provide Musekia with a home. "I consulted my husband, and while we have four children of our own, we decided to adopt Musekia," she says.

World Vision's interventions for children like Musekia are having a ripple effect. Community members like Kapakio are reaching out to support other vulnerable members of the community.

PEPFAR should be increased, child-focused

While many programs like this one that benefited Musekia are proving successful, there remains a need for increased investment and support for similar programs. The United States has made significant contributions to the fight against global AIDS — but the magnitude of the pandemic demands much greater attention.

"People in Africa and around the world are alive today because U.S. contributions are providing life-saving drugs, helping youth learn how to prevent HIV infection, and enabling adequate care for orphans and vulnerable children," says Craig Jaggers, World Vision's health and education policy adviser. "[Those] who rely on these interventions cannot afford for Congress to delay reauthorization. Members must work together to deliver a bipartisan bill reauthorizing PEPFAR for five more years, ensuring millions more lives will be saved.

"At this moment, when the U.S. considers whether it will continue to lead the world over the next five years in combating HIV and AIDS, we can be a voice for the woman who is turning the corner thanks to anti-retroviral drugs, for the orphaned child now adopted and attending school. Hope can be restored for people living with HIV and AIDS and communities profoundly impacted by the disease."

Learn more

>> Download a one-page document containing advocacy talking points regarding the global AIDS crisis (pdf file).

Four ways you can help

>> Pray for our congressional leaders as they consider the AIDS bill reauthorization. Pray that communities around the world would be empowered to care for the orphans and vulnerable children around them.
>> Speak out for AIDS-affected children. Add your name to our Make Your Mark for Children petition to ask Congress to swiftly reauthorize the global AIDS bill and ensure that 10 percent of all global AIDS funds be used to care for orphans and vulnerable children.
>> Visit the World Vision Experience: AIDS in a city near you.
>> Sponsor a HopeChild in an AIDS-affected nation.

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