Catholic charity urges HIV/AIDS funding in US budget
As congressional debate over the U.S. budget continues, Catholic Relief Services has stressed the need to preserve foreign aid funding, especially for those affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa and Asia.
Kathleen Kahlau, a Washington D.C.-based adviser for the agency, encouraged Catholics to contact their state lawmakers and “give them the message: ‘preserve this funding, preserve human life.’”
Kahlau was among a several speakers during a June 20 web cast hosted by Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. bishops conference aimed at helping prevent cuts to foreign aid funding within the federal budget.
In 2003, former President George W. Bush proposed the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which would allow faith based organizations to receive funding to provide health care in ways that are morally acceptable. In 2008 The State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill was reauthorized for another 5 years.
The legislation is expected to be up for a renewal vote before Congress breaks for elections, after they return, or could even carry over to the new congress.
“However, right now we don’t see the Final Appropriations Bill FY-13 in the House or Senate coming to the floor anytime soon,” Kahlau warned.
“We would like all members of congress getting messages that foreign aid is not up for grabs and these important life-saving programs need to be supported.”
Michelle Broemmelsiek of Catholic Relief Services reported that HIV/AIDS afflicts 34 million people worldwide and continues to spread with 2.7 million newly infected every year. Over 2 million people die annually from the disease. In Zambia alone, there are nearly 10,000 deaths a month which averages out to 329 deaths a day.
Jenny Farris, a foreign service officer and former south Africa resident, also weighed in during the webcast, outlining currently available treatments.
She called anti-retro viral therapy a widely effective method in combating the condition, noting that it “slows the course of the disease in order to allow people to live relatively normal lives.”
Farris also explained that despite the popular belief that an abundance of U.S. funds are spent on foreign assistance, it in fact only comprises 1 percent of the entire federal budget. [More]