The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) applauds President Barack Obama's historic announcement to scale up domestic resources and expand global goals in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
To commemorate World AIDS Day, Obama participated in a panel discussion on Dec.1, at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., which also featured Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, President Kikwete of Tanzania, Bono, Alicia Keys and others. This year’s World AIDS Day campaign focused on creating an AIDS-free generation by 2015, with an emphasis on reducing cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission -- from about 390,000 a year to zero by 2015.
Obama announced new initiatives to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the U.S., and to increase treatment options for those already infected. Obama said he would increase funding for combating HIV/AIDS by $50 million. The bulk of that amount, $35 million, will go to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which helps state programs provide affordable HIV drugs. Currently, there are over 6,000 people in waiting lists in the United States.
On the global side, senior Obama officials told reporters that “the president has set a goal of getting antiretroviral drugs to 2 million more people around the world by the end of 2013, and distributing medication to 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent them passing the virus to their children. The programs will target 15 countries hit hardest by AIDS, 12 of them in Africa."
The global component builds on the President's Emergency Plans for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), launched by President Bush in 2003. But, we have to do more, Obama said, calling on other countries in a position to give to step up and contribute to the fight.
AFC also strongly supports Clinton's proposal to license generic versions of HIV drugs in the United States. Clinton has led international efforts to produce generic HIV medications for $150-$500 per year that are available only overseas; the same drugs would cost as much as $20,000 per year in the United States because of patent limits. The proposed program would make it financially feasible to provide HIV medications to some of the half-million people with HIV in the U.S. who are not receiving medications.
Bush also delivered promising news. He joined the discussion, via satellite from Tanzania, announcing the launch of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon campaign. The Bush Center along with the U.S. Department of State, as well as private partners, are working to expand the reach of the PEPFAR with a cervical and breast cancer initiative. Women with HIV are more likely to get cancer.
AFC commends each of these announcements. We are eager to see these words become reality.
We echo Obama's inspiring words: "We can beat this disease. We can win this fight. We just have to keep at it, today, tomorrow, and every day until we get to zero. ... And that has to be our promise to each other; because we have come so far; we have saved so many lives; let’s finish the fight."
Do you ever feel there are critical advances in HIV/AIDS prevention that aren't being properly covered in the mainstream media? Or that there are complex HIV/AIDS-related healthcare and funding issues not being clearly explained? Or that there are powerful HIV/AIDS stories here in Chicago just waiting for someone to tell them? We feel that way, too!
At the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), we’re committed to changing the story of HIV/AIDS. Inside Story aims to take you inside that story, to give you an intimate look at how AFC, and other Chicago and national organizations, are fighting HIV/AIDS through medical, housing and support services; cutting-edge research into prevention and treatment methods; and advocacy for stronger HIV-AIDS public policy from legislators.