McCollum Introduces House Reauthorization of PEPFAR that Maintains Dedicated Funding for Millions of Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL–Minn.) introduced a five-year reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that reaffirms the U.S. commitment to combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
McCollum’s bill, the PEPFAR and Protection for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Act of 2018 (H.R. 6856), extends current law, including the requirement that at least 10% of funds appropriated for PEPFAR to be directed to services for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) affected by HIV/AIDS. The dedicated funding provision for OVC has been included in the PEPFAR law since 2003, but it is eliminated in the bipartisan PEPFAR reauthorization bill (H.R. 6651) currently moving through the U.S. House. The elimination of the “OVC set aside” is a major policy shift that effectively abandons millions of vulnerable children in the world’s poorest countries.
More than 12 million children worldwide are missing one or both parents due HIV/AIDS, with at least 80% living in sub-Saharan Africa. OVC programs are critical to responding directly to the physical, emotional, and economic impacts HIV/AIDS has on vulnerable children. PEPFAR’s dedicated OVC funding guarantees children remain a priority in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. As of September 2017, PEPFAR provided care and support to more than 6.4 million orphans, vulnerable children, and their caregivers worldwide, according U.S. Department of State. In addition, OVC funding enabled 562,000 HIV infected children to receive life-saving drugs in nine sub-Saharan countries.
“PEPFAR is saving lives, improving lives, and helping millions of orphans and vulnerable children escape lives of extreme poverty, exploitation, and suffering. My bill extends the current law that guarantees OVC funding, along with all other important elements of PEPFAR,” said McCollum. “Congress must reauthorize PEPFAR with all current provision intact – especially the dedicated funding for orphans and vulnerable children.”
The PEPFAR provisions in H.R. 6856, including the OVC set aside, are also included in legislation (S. 3476) recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
For more information on PEPFAR, please reference this factsheet.