A Global Oral History of PEPFAR

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has provided over $100 billion in cumulative funding to combat HIV globally since its launch in January 2003 by President George W. Bush. According to the White House, PEPFAR has saved more than 25 million lives and has dramatically improved health outcomes in more than 55 partner countries around the world. The program is undeniably one of the most significant policy achievements of the George W. Bush administration, and arguably of the last century of American involvement in the world.

Scholars recognize that this public health policy began as an act of mercy, and also identify it as an integral part of the Bush administration’s domestic policy and grand strategy for global security. This project—the first of its kind—seeks to document the global history of PEPFAR by focusing on four key themes:

  1. Understand the Creation and Evolution of PEPFAR over time
  2. Centralize the “Lived Experience” of PEPFAR
  3. PEPFAR’s Faith-Based Connections
  4. Gendered Access and Experience of PEPFAR

This global oral history of PEPFAR will begin by interviewing U.S.-based individuals involved in the creation of PEPFAR. Next, we will begin interviews in South Africa, one of the nations the U.S. has partnered with most significantly since PEPFAR’s 2003 beginning. We envision this as a multi-year project which will allow us to expand this oral history into other portions of the African continent, southeast Asia, and beyond.


Project Support and Acknowledgements

This project has received support from the following:

  • SMU Center for Presidential History
  • SMU William J. Clements Department of History
  • Dedman College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • SMU-George W. Bush Center Postdoctoral Fellowship Program


Principal Investigators:

Jill E. Kelly

Associate Professor
William P. Clements Department
of History

Augusta Dell'Omo

Postdoctoral Fellow
SMU Center for Presidential History

Brian Franklin

Associate Director
SMU Center for Presidential History

Team Members:

Jonathan Angulo

Postdoctoral Fellow      
Dedman College of
Humanities and Sciences

Daniel Sledge

Associate Professor of Health
Administration and Policy
University of Oklahoma Health
Sciences Center

Thandeka Dlamini-Simelane

SMU-George W. Bush Institute Postdoctoral Fellow
SMU Center for Presidential History