Our Voices in the Fight: The Congressional Black Caucus Champions Global HIV/AIDS Policy
By Katie Coester | February 21, 2014
The impact of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is undeniable, but many people may not know about the crucial role that the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) played in developing this groundbreaking program.
The CBC has been the “voice for people of color and vulnerable communities in Congress” since 1971, working to ensure equality for African-Americans and other minorities.
The CBC reached out to President Bush in 2002 calling on the U.S. government to become leaders in the fight against the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. HIV/AIDS champion Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) recently said on the House floor “To quote from a 2002 letter to President Bush, the Congressional Black Caucus called for ‘an expanded United States initiative' to `respond to the greatest plague in recorded history.’”
A short time after that letter, President Bush gave his groundbreaking State of the Union announcement in 2003 that first introduced PEPFAR--now the biggest global health success of our lifetime.
Before 2003 and the passage of the original PEPFAR legislation, there was very little hope for the millions infected and affected by AIDS in the developing world, and not enough political will to do anything about it.
Since then, 17 million people have been enrolled in care and support, more than 6 million people are on treatment, and more than 1 million pediatric infections have been prevented.
It took many players coming together to push for change in the U.S. global AIDS policy and at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), we are committed to working with the CBC and other partners until no child has AIDS.
Katie Coester is EGPAF’s public policy officer based in Washington, D.C.