Menendez and Corker introduce bill to strengthen PEPFAR

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduced new legislation on Wednesday to extend critical authorities and strengthen oversight of The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Since it was passed in 2003, PEPFAR has helped approximately six million people to obtain life-sustaining antiretroviral treatment and more than 11 million pregnant women to receive HIV testing and counseling. PEPFAR has also provided support and care to approximately 15 million people.

"PEPFAR has saved millions of lives over the last ten years and today we recommit ourselves to this critical fight by extending and enhancing this vital program," Menendez said. "On this bipartisan legislation, we worked hand-in-hand with the global health community to strengthen PEPFAR and ensure the program's continued success for the next ten years."

The PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act extends a requirement for state, USAID and Department of Health and Human Services inspectors general to develop annual joint oversight and audit plans, extends a reporting requirement meant to capture per-patient costs for PEPFAR-supported treatment and care, caps U.S. participation in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at 33 percent, modernizes an existing annual report on PEPFAR and extends existing funding requirements for treatment of orphans and vulnerable children.

"Millions of people are alive today because of PEPFAR's success in combating the scourge of HIV and AIDS, especially in Africa," Corker said. "This legislation seeks to reinforce these gains through improved oversight and reporting requirements while also extending provisions that promote greater country ownership and expanded international donor support. As the search for a cure continues, passage of this legislation will aid in PEPFAR's transition from an emergency U.S-led effort to one increasingly sustained by individual countries."

PEPFAR was announced by President George W. Bush in 2003 and was reauthorized in 2008. The PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act extends provisions that would expire on September 30.