News / USA

Obama Unveils National AIDS Strategy Amid Praise and Criticism

President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled what he calls a comprehensive national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. Critics assert that the plan falls far short of what is needed, while others call it an important step toward a more coordinated and effective national response to AIDS.

The plan aims to reduce infections by 25 percent within five years, expand education about the disease, and increase the number of infected people who are aware of their HIV-positive status.

Addressing some 250 AIDS activists and community leaders at a White House reception, the president said the new strategy comes nearly 30 years after the medical community first documented some of the first cases of AIDS.

It will work, he said, in a comprehensive and coordinated way to improve therapy for those with HIV, expand testing, and narrow health disparities by ensuring that treatment is available in disadvantaged communities.

The question, the president said, is whether the nation will fulfill its obligations, and devote the resources and political will to confront what he called a preventable tragedy.

"While HIV transmission rates in this country are not as high as they once were, every new case is one case too many," said President Obama. "We are here because we believe in an America where those living with HIV/AIDS are not viewed with suspicion but are treated with respect.  Where they are provided the medications and health care that they need.  Where they can live out their lives as fully as their health allows."  

Earlier, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the strategy recognizes that while there has been progress in turning the tide against HIV/AIDS, more needs to be done.

"Since the late-1990s, our progress in preventing new infections has slowed," said Kathleen Sebelius. "Annual infections have held steady in the mid-50,000 a year.  And because the number of people living with HIV has gone up over those years, that means we are driving down infection rates slightly, but not fast enough.  We're keeping pace when we should be gaining ground."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one million people in the United States have HIV, with more than 56,000 people becoming infected each year.  Eighteen-thousand people die of the disease annually.

Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the White House Office of National HIV/AIDS Policy, says the strategy is a road map that attempts to do three things.

"We need to intensify our prevention efforts in communities where HIV is most heavily concentrated," said Jeffrey Crowley. "We need to expand targeted efforts to prevent HIV infection, using a combination of effective evidence-based approaches.  And we need to educate all Americans about the threat of HIV and how to prevent it."

Even as the new strategy was rolled out, it faced criticism from critics within the AIDS community who say the president is under-funding the effort.

Michael Weinstein is president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

"Access to care for HIV is declining in this country," said Michael Weinstein. "You can't say this is a new strategy, if you don't intend to spend any money on it."

President Obama said he recognizes that some U.S. states have cut back on funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which helps individuals gain access to medication.  He said his administration has worked to increase government assistance.

Mitchell Warren of Global Advocacy for AIDS Prevention says although the United States has provided critical leadership in fighting AIDS globally, there has not been enough coordination of efforts at home.

The White House plan, he says, provides leadership and lays out a strategy for the first time in 30 years.

"It does provide the basis for a solid program going forward," said Mitchell Warren. "It's an important strategy.  And I think most importantly, unlike many other strategies, it actually lays out an implementation plan that includes milestones, targets.  It's a thoughtful strategy."

President Obama said the national AIDS effort must be pursued with the global health strategy to roll back the pandemic beyond U.S. borders.

Some AIDS groups, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Global AIDS Alliance, say President Barack Obama has not maintained the global U.S. commitment to fighting AIDS, including sufficient funding for the $15-billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, program.

The administration rejects that assertion, noting that President Obama has pledged to maintain U.S. leadership in the fight against AIDS.  Officials point to increases in PEPFAR funding, amid difficult economic times, along with contributions of $63 billion over six years to the Global Health Initiative.   

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid