Developments In Domestic and Global HIV/AIDS Strategies
Posted Jul 27 2010 8:09pm
photo by anga via flickr
The White House recently released its HIV/AIDS strategy to reduce the number of new infections in the United States by 25% over the next five years. During a press conference, President Obama observed that “[t]he question is not whether we know what to do, but whether we will do it. Whether we will fulfill those obligations… to prevent a tragedy.” Those obligations primarily concern reducing the number of new infections through HIV prevention programs, increasing access to and quality of care for those living with HIV, and decreasing HIV-related health disparities. Right now there are 56,000 new infections in the United States every year. Approximately 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, but 1 in 5 don’t know it.
“when you see what this administration has done on AIDS, you have to give them very low grades.”
Obama has “consistently underfunded AIDS” programs, Weinstein said. The president “did not mention the word AIDS for the first five months of his administration. This national AIDS strategy has been worked on for 15 months, [and] I think it could have been done in 15 minutes. There’s nothing new in it.”
Weinstein [also] criticized the administration’s intention to redirect money to those groups at greatest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. “It’s not good to pit one group against another and it’s unnecessary,” he said. “The bottom line is that we should be seeking to get all sexually active people to get an HIV test.”
Some recent Canadian research also suggests another bottom line: treating people with HIV reduces the number of new infections. And there the treatment is free.
The 18th International AIDS Conference took place last week in Vienna, Austria. Policymakers, researchers, advocates, and persons living with HIV met to draw attention to the epidemic and assess the global response to it. According to the Associated Press , Julio Montaner, President of the International AIDS Society and Chairman of the Conference, opened the event by pointing to how:
the G-8 group of rich nations has failed to deliver on a commitment to guarantee so-called universal access and warned this could have dire consequences.
“This is a very serious deficit,” Montaner said. “Let’s rejoice in the fact that today we have treatments that work … what we need is the political will to go the extra mile to deliver universal access.”
With the global economic crisis in full swing, AIDS activists are concerned about developed countries reducing their foreign aid, including funding for AIDS assistance.
In its annual report released last week, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that global AIDS spending has “flattened.” Although public and private sources contributed $15.9 billion in 2009, the amount was $7.7 billion short of the estimated $23.6 billion needed to combat AIDS in low and middle-income countries. Contributing governments included the U.S. (58%), United Kingdom (10.2%), Germany (5.2%), the Netherlands (5%), France (4.4%), and Denmark (2.5%). The report noted that “without U.S. funding, international AIDS assistance from donor governments would have significantly declined between 2008 and 2009.”