US President Donald Trump has signed a bill into law that will give billions to lifesaving HIV treatment.
The law provides 14 million people with lifesaving antiretroviral treatment across about 50 countries worldwide, many of which are in Africa.
PEPFAR was introduced by the then-President George Bush in 2003 in response to the AIDS crisis in Africa and has received bipartisan support throughout the years.
The senate passed the bill with unanimous consent and it was approved by voice vote in the senate, which is used when there is no significant opposition to legislative measures.
Trump renews PEPFAR, which provides 14 million with HIV treatment
The US has contributed billions of dollars to the programme since it was brought in.
It was re-authorised by Bush in 2008 and later by then President Barack Obama in 2013.
“Bipartisanship is not dead,” Jennifer Kates, the vice president and director for global health and HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Vox.
“This is one of those rare examples in Washington. There’s been an incredible history of bipartisanship around PEPFAR that stands outside the rancor we hear about.”
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Research shows PEPFAR reduced HIV death rate by 10%
Research has shown that the PEPFAR programme has had a significant impact in reducing the HIV death rate.
A 2009 study by Stanford University compared the HIV death rate in African countries with and without PEPFAR support between 2004 and 2007.
“There’s been an incredible history of bipartisanship around PEPFAR that stands outside the rancor we hear about.”
—Jennifer Kates, the vice president and director for global health and HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation
It found that PEPFAR reduced the HIV mortality rate by more than 10 percent in the African countries where PEPFAR had been enrolled, saving more than one million lives.
The renewal of PEPFAR comes after the Trump administration quietly halted funding to for research into a cure for HIV at the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure Research.
On Thursday (December 13), Trump criticised Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski for calling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “wannabe dictator’s butt boy” on air.
Trump took to Twitter on Thursday night (December 13) to condemn Brzezinski’s comment, which viewers slammed as “homophobic.”
The president wrote: “If it was a Conservative that said what ‘crazed’ Mika Brzezinski stated on her show yesterday, using a certain horrible term, that person would be banned permanently from television.”
He added: “She will probably be given a pass, despite their terrible ratings.”