December 1, 2011
Today, World AIDS Day 2011, the Black AIDS Institute congratulates President Obama for continuing to fulfill his commitment to create an "AIDS-free generation" by making several significant commitments to move us closer to ending the domestic epidemic.
First, President Obama acknowledged "the fight is not over -- not by a long shot" and that we must persist with our efforts domestically, including in Black America. "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," he said. We agree.
Second, in addition to allocating new money for international efforts, the President announced the allocation of $50 million in new money for domestic treatment plans, including $15 million for the Ryan White Program and $35 million for state ADAP programs. Almost 6600 Americans languish on ADAP waiting lists, many as a result of the economic downturn. The President called on state governments, drug companies and foundations "to do their part to help Americans get access to all the life-saving treatments."
President Obama also appointed Nancy Mahon, executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund, as chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. A longtime HIV/AIDS and health activist Nancy is an excellent choice. I look forward to serving alongside her.
Thirty years is enough. We have reached a deciding moment. It's time to end the AIDS epidemic in America.
HIV is 100 percent preventable, including among some of our most at-risk populations: women, gay and bisexual men and young adults. HIV is also 100 percent diagnosable and in many cases treatable.
We have new diagnostic tools, new surveillance capabilities, new prevention strategies, new treatment options and a new understanding of how to interrupt acquisition and transmission. We can do more than imagine the end of the epidemic; we can make it happen.
The question is no longer can we end AIDS? The question is will we? Do we have the moral willpower and the political leadership? Will we use both the newly acquired and more primitive tools efficiently, compassionately and effectively?
We commend President Obama for understanding that "the fight is not over -- not by a long shot," for pledging that "we are going to win this fight," and for understanding "We just have to keep at it, steady, persistent, today, tomorrow, and every day until we get to zero."