July 12, 2012
At a forum in Washington Tuesday sponsored by AIDS In America, advocates called on federal and state governments to expand resources to combat the disease in the United States. Government data show that 1.2 million Americans are HIV-positive, and the rate of new infections has held steady for roughly a decade.
Julie Scofield, executive director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, believes that federal and state funding have not kept pace with the need for AIDS education, prevention, testing, and treatment. CDC estimates that only 40 percent of HIV-positive people in the US are getting continued health care. Further, 2,000 people in nine states remain on waiting lists for help from AIDS Drug Assistance Programs.
Ronald Johnson, of AIDS United, pointed out that the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act could benefit the more than 50 percent of HIV patients who receive treatment through these programs. However, several Republican governors have said they will opt out of the ACA's Medicaid expansion.
With the 19th International AIDS Conference being held in Washington in two weeks, advocates -- including Carl Schmid, deputy executive director at the AIDS Institute -- hope for a renewed focus on combating AIDS. "Society has turned its attention away from this epidemic," he said. "With more HIV in our country than ever before, it is imperative that we raise our country's consciousness."