FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2017
Contact: Jessica Bassett, firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-593-7628
Billboard in Downtown Columbia Calls on Senator Graham to “Save Lives, Fund the Fight”
South Carolina Fight for Global Health Coalition Challenges Sen. Graham to Save Lives by Fully Funding Global AIDS Treatment and Prevention Programs
South Carolina Fight for Global Health, a coalition of individuals concerned about ending the global AIDS epidemic, today unveiled a billboard in Columbia encouraging Senator Lindsey Graham to strengthen his efforts on behalf of people with HIV, and to increase funding for life-saving global HIV treatment programs. The billboard, located on Greystone Boulevard at Stoneridge Drive near the Riverbanks Zoo reads: “Trump’s AIDS Budget Will Kill 1 Million People. Senator Graham: Save Lives, Fund the Fight” and will be displayed for the next month. Senator Graham is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, and in the past has consistently recommended flat-funding for global AIDS programs.
In May, the Trump administration released a budget proposal that would cut $1 billion from highly effective, life-saving global AIDS programs, including the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
The human impact of these deep budget cuts include:
- 1 million avoidable AIDS-related deaths
- 1 million fewer people with HIV on life-saving treatment
- Up to 280,000 new HIV infections
- More than 30,000 maternal, newborn, and child deaths
In a recent hearing on the President’s 2018 budget proposal, Senator Graham noted how highly effective the PEPFAR program has been, and called the administration’s proposed cuts “penny wise and pound foolish.”
“Senator Graham knows that deep budget cuts will lead to more deaths and a more expensive HIV liability in the future,” said Dr. Bambi W. Gaddist, Executive Director, South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council. “We just can’t afford to be ‘penny wise and pound foolish.’ Now, more than ever, we need him to stand up and truly champion investing in global HIV programs by increasing funding so we can end the epidemic, save lives, and contain unnecessary spread of HIV.”
“Americans from all walks of life strongly support investing in the global AIDS response,” said Carmen Julious, CEO of the Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services. “No matter what your politics are – South Carolinians want to see Senator Graham block deadly cuts to the global AIDS budget and fully fund these programs that work.”
“We need Senator Graham to make sure our investment in ending the AIDS epidemic is increased, not cut, in the next budget,” said Jordan Byrne, President of the American Medical Student Association at Clemson University. “Now more than ever, we need the Senator’s leadership to ensure this expression of American goodwill has the funding needed to prevent new HIV infections and work toward a day when all people with HIV have access to life-saving treatment.”
“I am very sad to know that 19 million people still don’t have access to life-saving HIV treatment, and with this budget proposal, the added hundreds of thousands of babies’ AIDS deaths would break my heart,” said Mary Keenan, South Carolina Progressive Network. “I’ve seen firsthand the devastation this epidemic has had in sub-Saharan Africa, and I know Senator Graham understands that HIV is still a crisis for millions of people around the world. Now it’s time to act to save lives by providing increased – not decreased! – funding.”
Coalition members also signed on to a letter to Senator Graham detailing what’s needed in the next federal budget to keep the global AIDS response on track to achieving an AIDS-free generation. The text of that letter is available here and further information is available at www.WeCanEndAIDS.org.
There are 37 million people living with HIV around the world. Approximately 19 million of them still do not have access to life-saving HIV treatment. PEPFAR, formed in 2003 by President George W. Bush at activists’ urging, is widely seen as one of the most effective and strategic programs the U.S. has ever undertaken, and was praised by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in his own confirmation hearings. PEPFAR provides treatment to one in four people with HIV around the world and has prevented countless new infections. Combined with its investment in global health made through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is credited with saving more than 20 million lives, the United States has a deeply rooted bipartisan commitment to global HIV treatment and prevention.