October 19, 2012
Despite efforts of AIDS United and our advocates to urge presidential and vice-presidential debate moderators to ask questions about how each administration would address HIV/AIDS, none of the three debates featured questions or answers specifically about HIV/AIDS.
Since the beginning of October, presidential candidates President Barack Obama (D) and Governor Mitt Romney (R) have faced off in two debates and vice presidential candidates Vice President Biden (D) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) went head-to-head in one debate. Each of the debates featured discussion about some domestic policy issues, including health care, but not HIV/AIDS directly. The final debate, scheduled for Monday, October 22 at 9:00 Eastern time, will focus solely on foreign policy.
"It is certainly alarming that not a single candidate mentioned HIV/AIDS throughout these three debates," said Ronald Johnson, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at AIDS United. "This election is probably one of the most important elections for the HIV community since the epidemic began, because it will determine how -- or if -- we will use all of the tools that we now have available to end the HIV epidemic."
Johnson said that the November 6 outcome will impact how the U.S. pursues the goals of its National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the reauthorization of Ryan White Program, and funding for important institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. The next president also will determine the future of health care reform and Medicaid expansion in the United States, programs which are essential to many people living with HIV/AIDS.
"People living with HIV or affected by HIV have a lot at stake in this election," said Johnson. "We still need to hear how the next President will respond to the epidemic here in the United States."
AIDS United had been working to mobilize stakeholders and advocates to get the candidates on the record about HIV/AIDS by urging debate moderators through Facebook and Twitter to ask HIV-related questions. Advocates were asked to tweet suggested HIV questions to the moderators, and post those questions on the moderators' and/or news outlets' Facebook pages, adding the hashtag #debateHIV to create an online Twitter discussion about the debates.
"They may have not debated HIV/AIDS, but we will continue to push the discussion," said Johnson. "It is essential that we continue the dialogue about HIV/AIDS so that all candidates and elected officials are held accountable for creating an AIDS-free generation."