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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.