The Obama administration Tuesday unveiled a $45 million program to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. The five-year program is initially targeted at those at greatest risk.Officials worry that too many Americans don't think much about AIDS any more, and the new campaign is about combating complacency as much as combating the disease.
The director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes, told reporters that the campaign will focus first on those most at risk: "the African American community, gay and bisexual men, and African American women."
The campaign is a joint effort of federal public health agencies and private organizations, including 14 African American civic groups. Blacks are 1/8 of the U.S. population but account for half of new HIV infections, according to the government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC.
The AIDS awareness campaign comes at a time when only 14 percent of Americans say they have seen, heard, or read a lot about HIV in the past year. That figure, down 20 percentage points in the past five years, comes from a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, headed by Drew Altman.
"The HIV epidemic as fallen off the radar screen in our country at exactly the time when our friends at the CDC have told us that it is a much larger epidemic than we thought it was," he said.The Act Against AIDS campaign includes a website, nineandahalfminutes.org, where you can get information on how to protect yourself against HIV transmission.