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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid