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Positive Policy:

Getting to Zero on World AIDS Day

By Colleen Curtis

December 1, 2011

This article was cross-posted from the White House blog.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on World AIDS Day event at George Washington University in Washington, Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on World AIDS Day event at George Washington University in Washington, Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama today marked World AIDS Day, speaking at an event called "The Beginning of the End of AIDS" where he outlined the progress that has been made in the global fight against the pandemic:

Because we invested in anti-retroviral treatment, people who would have died, some of whom are here today, are living full and vibrant lives. Because we developed new tools, more and more mothers are giving birth to children free from this disease. And because of a persistent focus on awareness, the global rate of new infections and deaths is declining. So make no mistake, we are going to win this fight.

AIDS has claimed 30 million lives over the past three decades, and while the rate of new infections is going down in many countries, the President acknowledged that it is not declining in America:

The infection rate here has been holding steady for over a decade. There are communities in this country being devastated, still, by this disease.

When new infections among young black gay men increase by nearly 50 percent in 3 years, we need to do more to show them that their lives matter. When Latinos are dying sooner than other groups, and when black women feel forgotten, even though they account for most of the new cases among women, then we've got to do more.

So this fight is not over. Not for the 1.2 million Americans who are living with HIV right now. Not for the Americans who are infected every day. This fight is not over for them, it's not over for their families, and as a consequence, it can't be over for anybody in this room -- and it certainly isn't over for your President.

Musician Bono, center,  listens as President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a World AIDS Day event at George Washington University  in Washington, D.C.,  Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Musician Bono, center, listens as President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a World AIDS Day event at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President announced that he is directing $50 million in increased funding for domestic HIV/AIDS treatment and care -- an additional $15 million for the Ryan White program for HIV medical clinics across the country, and an additional $35 million for state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. He also pledged that America will continue to be a leader in the global fight against the pandemic:

Now, as we go forward, we've got to keep refining our strategy so that we're saving as many lives as possible. We need to listen when the scientific community focuses on prevention. That's why, as a matter of policy, we're now investing in what works -- from medical procedures to promoting healthy behavior.

And that's why we're setting a goal of providing anti-retroviral drugs to more than 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women over the next two years so that they have the chance to give birth to HIV-free babies.

We're not going to stop there. We know that treatment is also prevention. And today, we're setting a new target of helping 6 million people get treatment by the end of 2013. That's 2 million more people than our original goal.

Today's event was sponsored by the ONE and (Red) campaigns and also featured remarks from Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, via satellite.

See Also
National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States: Executive Summary
U.S. Announces First National HIV/AIDS Strategy
More on U.S. HIV/AIDS Policy
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