Peter Mugyenyi runs the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC), one of the most successful AIDS-treatment providers in Uganda. Back in 2003, he went to Washington on a day’s notice to help the Bush administration draft its plan for what would become PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), the most ambitious public-health initiative ever to tackle the AIDS crisis, then sat beside Laura Bush at the State of the Union address when the program was announced. In the years since, he has been applauded when he exceeded his enrollment targets.
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But today, despite treating 32,000 AIDS patients, he does not have a message of success. Instead, he was back in Washington in March, this time to warn that the stagnation of PEPFAR funding is beginning to “result in chaos.” At the beginning of April he was quoted in The Boston Globe, announcing that he had received word not to enroll new patients unless they are replacing others who have left or died. Midmonth, Health GAP, an independent activist organization, reported that antiretroviral-treatment programs at the JCRC and other clinics in Uganda were being “precipitously” transferred to government hospitals, which did not have the drugs to handle them. On Monday, Mugyenyi was again raising the alarm, having penned the introduction to a new report put out by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition that warns of a global backslide in the AIDS fight.