Updated Jul 12, 2023 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the fight against AIDS

On Wednesday, July 12, Axios senior policy reporter Caitlin Owens, senior world reporter Dave Lawler and senior health care editor Adriel Bettelheim hosted virtual conversations looking at the progress, challenges and priorities in the fight against AIDS in the U.S. and globally. Guests included Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), ONE Campaign CEO Gayle E. Smith and KFF senior vice president and director of global health & HIV policy Jennifer Kates.

The View from the Top sponsored segment featured Viatris head of global policy Erika Satterwhite.

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi discussed how progress made in the fight against AIDS has been accelerated by community activists, scientific advances and resources from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) over the last few decades.

  • On the role community activists played in progressing solutions: “I want to salute the outside mobilization…the outside mobilization, all of the groups that were so impatient, rightfully so, made such a difference. And that’s how we got through increasing our funding into the billions of dollars, our authorization of legislation to move away from discrimination and toward solutions that recognized the dignity and worth of every person.”
  • On Republican claims that President Biden is using PEPFAR funds to support abortion rights: “It has nothing to do with a women’s right to choose or abortion. That’s heartbreaking, I mean it’s awful. So we know what we have to do for research, and while we don’t have the solution I would like to have had, which is a cure and vaccine, we have improved the quality of life enormously over the years.”

Gayle E. Smith emphasized how the long-term support and success of U.S. efforts to lead in the fight against AIDS are an example of global leadership on an issue that has transcended politics.

  • On the leadership role of the U.S. in combating the AIDS epidemic: “I think it speaks to what’s possible, because what’s happened here, we have had robust support financially and politically across multiple administrations, two political parties, the executive and legislative branches and the public for 20 years, and that’s done a number of things on the ground around the world.”

Jennifer Kates explained how the current political dynamics putting PEPFAR reauthorization into question have deviated from decades of bipartisan support.

  • On PEPFAR reauthorization debates: “It was first created in 2003 by President George W. Bush, and by any measure, it had incredible strong bipartisan support when it was created, and it has continued to have that over many years of funding, of reauthorization…it’s due to be reauthorized by the end of this fiscal year, and it’s kind of stuck right now on the Hill because it’s mired down in politics of the day. It’s not that this has not happened before, but the politics are getting pretty messy, and so there’s a question as to whether it’s going to be reauthorized in time, or by the end of this year at all this go around.”

In the View from the Top segment, Erika Satterwhite highlighted what lessons can be learned from PEPFAR’s global success over the years.

  • “The biggest learning from the last 20 years of PEPFAR and the global fight against HIV/AIDS is that with political will, with targeted financing, accountable targets and a true commitment to multi-sectoral partnership including civil society, communities impacted by the diseases and the private sector, the world can achieve incredible results.”

Thank you to Viatris for sponsoring this event.

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