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IOM hails AIDS program as 'transformative'


By Rachel Landen
Posted: February 20, 2013 - 11:45 am ET
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The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief “has played a transformative role with its contribution to the global response to HIV,” according to a report issued today by the Institute of Medicine.

The effort, known as PEPFAR, represents the U.S.' largest financial effort in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, with $15 billion pledged at its outset in 2003 and another $39 billion authorized in 2008. In order to be considered for continued funding, Congress asked the IOM to evaluate PEPFAR's performance and impact, as well as offer guidance for future program initiatives.

A committee of global health and HIV policy experts directed a review of quantitative metrics, including financial figures, program and clinical monitoring data and epidemiological information. Committee members, IOM staff and other consultants conducted over 400 interviews with stakeholders during the two-year study period.

“During our visits to partner countries, we repeatedly heard PEPFAR described as a lifeline,” Robert Black, committee chair and professor in the department of international health at Johns Hopkins, said in a news release. “People credit the initiative with restoring hope,” he said.

PEPFAR has increased availability of HIV testing, invested in treatment sites and drug therapies, and added nonclinical services for those affected. The just-released report estimates that PEPFAR's efforts—including prevention, treatment and care—have saved and improved the lives of millions of people worldwide.

However, the committee highlighted the need for additional attention to be placed on prevention strategies.

The report also recommended that PEPFAR increase its emphasis on transitioning responsibility and management of HIV/AIDS programs from the organization to the affected countries.

“As it moves forward, PEPFAR must continue to be bold in its vision, implementation and global leadership, this time toward its aim of continuing to strengthen capacity in partner countries in responding to the pandemic,” Black wrote in the report.

The IOM's study of PEPFAR was sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

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