Donald Trump is targeting a successful, bipartisan program that has helped millions suffering from HIV in Africa. Experts say if he gets his way, a million people could die as a result.
The Trump administration has made a proposal to reduce foreign aid to sub-Saharan Africa that experts say would lead to the deaths of 1 million human beings.
The New York Times reports that Trump’s proposed Pentagon budget would shift funding so that “the United States will spend more money on military affairs in Africa but reduce humanitarian and development assistance across the continent.”
As part of this proposal, Trump would kill several programs used to buy antiretroviral drugs that are used to treat people infected with HIV, cutting at least $1.1 billion, which is nearly one-fifth of the funding these programs currently take in.
The Times notes, “Researchers say the cuts could lead to the deaths of at least one million people in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.”
The Trump proposal would cut funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
PEPFAR, which began under former President George W. Bush in 2004, has helped over 56.7 million people get HIV testing and counseling. Former President Barack Obama made support for the initiative bipartisan during his presidency, hailing it as Bush’s “crowning achievement,” despite their major policy differences on multiple issues. Obama added, “Because of the commitment of the Bush administration and the American people, millions of people’s lives have been saved.”
Asia Russell, executive director of Health Global Access Project, blasted the Trump proposal in a statement: “Shame on the Trump administration for showing no regard for people’s lives and cutting highly-effective, life-saving programs to the bone.”
The drop in HIV treatment funding is another piece of Trump’s multi-pronged approach to making life more difficult and dangerous for the most vulnerable people, both in the United States and around the world.