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President Obama Uses Millions to "Get to Zero"

By Candace Y.A. Montague

December 1, 2011

President Obama makes a plan for ending AIDS. Credit:

President Obama makes a plan for ending AIDS. Credit:

Video: President Obama making his 2012 World AIDS Day announcement.

Video: President Obama making his 2012 World AIDS Day announcement.

The One Campaign set the platform for one big announcement on World AIDS Day. President Obama made a bold pledge today at George Washington University in an effort to end the 30-year AIDS epidemic in the United States. He pledged to put $50 million dollars towards spending on HIV treatment. President Obama also pledged to help six million people worldwide to get access to antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2013. "We are going to win this fight. But the fight is not over. Not by a long shot."

World AIDS Day's theme this year is "Getting to Zero" meaning zero new infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths. President Obama has a specific plan how he and the government can do just that. The details for his plan include:

  • giving $35 million dollars to state programs that help people living with HIV/AIDS get access to medicine. (This could mean the end of the ADAP waiting list which stands at more than 6,500 individuals in 12 states).
  • getting antiretroviral drugs to 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent them from passing the virus to their children.
  • funding 4.7 million voluntary medical male circumcisions in eastern and southern Africa over the next two years. (male circumcision has been proven to reduce female-to-male transmissions)
  • distributing more than 1 billion condoms in the developing world in the next two years.
  • reevaluating both international and domestic approaches to HIV and AIDS this summer after being briefed on the scientific advancements.

President Obama praised former President George W. Bush for taking the initiative in 2003 to begin the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). "I want to thank him for his bold leadership on this issue. That program was even more ambitious than leading advocates thought was possible at the time." He also noted that the infection rate has not been reduced enough in America and that more assertive action must be taken. "The infection rate has been holding steady here for a decade. When new infections among young, black, gay men increase by nearly 50 percent in three years, we need to do more to show them that their lives matter. When Latinos are dying sooner than other groups and black women feel forgotten even though they account for most of the new cases among women, then we've gotta do more."


Local non-profit organizations reacted positively to the announcement. Marylin Merida, Board President of The AIDS Institute noted, "This is the first time in our 30 year fight against HIV/AIDS that we can actually see an end to this devastating disease. We must harness our collective power to continue to fight for already stretched resources and save lives." The National Association for People With AIDS said in a statement that the president's announcement shows that the government committed to the fight. "Mr. Obama's speech shows us there is political will to act on the science. We salute the President for saying, 'Yes, this is about justice, yes, we can do this, and yes, we will."

Currently, 1.2 million people live with HIV in America and 50,000 become infected every year.

Click on the link to see video footage of today's announcement.

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See Also
Advocates Urge Obama to Address HIV in the U.S.
President Obama and HIV/AIDS

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D.C. HIV/AIDS Examiner

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC and emPower News Magazine.

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