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US government ends funding of South African bishops’ anti-AIDS efforts

Catholic World News - July 17, 2013

The United States has ended its funding of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s anti-AIDS efforts, a Benedictine missionary told Vatican Radio.

In 2003, President George W. Bush’s administration launched PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), which has provided $30 billion in funding to combat HIV/AIDS.

In his interview with Vatican Radio, Father Gerhard Lagleder, a missionary who ministers to AIDS patients in South Africa, discussed the decision to cut PEPFAR funding and to direct funds away from charitable organizations and to the South African government.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has provided antiretroviral drugs to 40,000 AIDS patients. Its efforts were “supported for close to ten years by PEPFAR, and this funding is coming to an end in June next year,” said Father Lagleder.

Most patients, he added, “have been transferred to government programs, but in our area, the government clinic is so over-swamped with patients, they could not take over our patients, so we have no choice but to carry on.”

“I am in Europe today, to beg” for private funds, Father Lagleder added. “I always say jokingly that the Benedictines are not a mendicant order, but I have become a beggar because it is about saving lives.”

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