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As the co-chair of AIDS United’s non-partisan Public Policy, Elections Sub-Committee, and working in partnership with a coalition of nearly 70 organizations, I traveled across the country to meet with the presidential candidates to influence inclusion of HIV/AIDS policy language within each party’s platform and campaign policy planks. You can read more about the challenges and triumphs of one of those meetings here.
I wanted to share some exciting news with you: For the first time in DNC history, action on HIV/AIDS will be intentionally included in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) platform, which delegates will vote on at their convention this week. The convention will also feature an HIV-positive speaker on Wednesday; a voice from the HIV community has not been amplified from either party's convention floor since 2000.
Excerpt of the DNC platform section on HIV/AIDS
Democrats believe an AIDS-free generation is within our grasp. But today far too many Americans living with HIV are without access to quality care and too many new infections occur each year. That is why we will implement the National HIV and AIDS Strategy; increase research funding for the National Institutes of Health; cap pharmaceutical expenses for people living with HIV and AIDS; reform HIV criminalization laws; and expand access for harm reduction programs and HIV prevention medications, particularly for the populations most at risk of infection. Abroad, we will continue our commitment to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and increase global funding for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. Democrats will always protect those living with HIV and AIDS from stigma and discrimination.
We are very excited to see the fruits of this hard work coming together! HIV/AIDS was part of past DNC platforms, but usually just as a line or two in the health care or LGBT sections of the platform. It’s also important to note that HIV/AIDS is the only specific disease with its own section in that party’s platform.
The coalition working on this effort also attempted to influence the Republican National Committee (RNC) platform as well — but with no luck. This is especially concerning because turning the tide on HIV and ending new AIDS cases in the U.S. is of national importance. It’s imperative that both national parties articulate their commitment to helping end the epidemic here in the U.S. and around the world.
We will continue to ensure that HIV/AIDS remains a visible part of the national narrative throughout this election cycle. For example, we published a presidential questionnaire that several candidates answered. We are also working to ensure that HIV/AIDS questions are included in presidential debates, writing policy briefs and recommendations to sway elected officials’ prioritization of HIV and drafting an HIV/AIDS transition document for the incoming administration.
To stay informed on how the presidential candidates and their campaigns seek to end the HIV epidemic and advance sound HIV policy this election cycle, please sign up for AIDS United policy updates and AIDS Foundation of Chicago alerts.