June 24, 2011
"... Last year, the president announced the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. This strategy focuses on combinations of evidence-based approaches to decrease new HIV infections in high-risk communities, improve care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reduce health disparities. Also, the administration increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention, and to invest in HIV/AIDS-related research.
"But as the president has said, 'government cannot take on this disease alone.' That is why, as part of the Champions of Change initiative, the White House invited nine inspiring HIV/AIDS advocates for a roundtable discussion to meet with administration officials including Office of National AIDS Policy Director Jeffrey Crowley, [Department of Health and Human Services] Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, and key staff from HHS, [the Department of Justice] and [the Department of Housing and Urban Development]. ...
"As someone living with HIV, this is very personal for me. We stand on the shoulders of many that are now gone, and those who continue to fight today. The 'Champions' that we met with are living examples of both the progress and challenges we have faced over the past 30 years. We are making progress -- the number of new infections has declined among infants born with HIV and injection drug users, but we are now seeing rising infections in gay and bisexual men. Re-engaging the public, particularly the LGBT community, in prevention education and fighting stigma is crucial.
"This anniversary is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. We owe it to those that are no longer with us, and those like these 'Champions' and the thousands like them that are fighting every day. We also owe it to the next generation. We invite you to learn more about the work of these Champions for Change in the fight against HIV/AIDS."
The author is deputy director of the White House Office of Engagement. Champions for Change is a weekly White House initiative highlighting Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping the nation meet the challenges of the 21st century. Visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions/fight-aids.