(Jennifer Epstein) The Obama administration is shifting $100 million into research efforts aimed at curing HIV, President Obama announced Monday.
A new initiative at the National Institutes of Health will be aimed at “advanc[ing] research toward an HIV cure,” Obama said at a White House event marking World AIDS Day, which was Sunday.
The initiative is aimed at developing “new therapies,” he said. “The United States should be at the forefront of the discoveries how to put HIV in long-term remission without requiring lifelong therapies. Or, better yet, eliminate it completely.”
Obama took an optimistic tone, pledging that the United States would “remain the global leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS” until the virus is eradicated.
The president was less specific about U.S. support for programs aimed at treating and preventing HIV and AIDS around the world. The United States will give as much as $5 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next two years, matching every $2 raised from other sources with $1 of government giving, he said.
Members of Congress and activists including Archbishop Desmond Tutu had called on the administration to commit to double the reach of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief over the next few years, but Obama made no such announcement on Monday.
Instead, he spoke broadly and hopefully of a cure. “We will stand with you through every step of this journey until we reach the day possible when all men and women can protect themselves from infection, a day when all people with HIV infection have access to treatment to save their lives. The day when no babies born with HIV and AIDS and achieve what once was hard to imagine, an HIV-free generation. That’s the world I want for my daughters, that’s what we want for our families,” he said. “If we stay focused and honor the memories of those that we’ve lost, if we summon the same courage they displayed by insist ongoing whatever it takes however long it takes, I believe we’re going to win this fight. I’m confident that we’ll do so together.”
The $100 million in funding over the next three years for the HIV Cure Initiative will be “reprioritized,” the White House said in a fact sheet released, though it did not elaborate on where exactly that money would come from.
While $100 million seems like a relatively small commitment, experts say it could cost as little as $100 million to make significant progress on HIV and AIDS research.