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Statement of Paul A. Volberding, M.D., Board Chairman HIV Medicine Association, in Response to President Bush's HIV/AIDS Speech

June 25, 2004

It was heartening to hear the President's announcement regarding the immediate availability of an additional $20 million to respond to the nearly 2,000 persons with HIV/AIDS who are on waiting lists for life-saving medications. We only hope that these funds are not being reallocated from other federal health programs that provide services to medically needy populations. While we applaud this action as well as the President's support for the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act with an increased emphasis on the provision of primary medical care, we call on the Administration to lead the way for a more comprehensive and sustained response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Last month, the Institute of Medicine issued a report on public financing for HIV/AIDS care, which called for the development of a federal entitlement to comprehensive primary medical care and prescription drugs for all Americans with HIV/AIDS who earn less than $23,000 per year. The HIV Medicine Association calls on the President and his Administration to embrace this recommendation and to urge Congress to legislate such a program. In the interim, the President can ensure that scores of low-income persons with HIV disease do not find themselves on waiting lists for medications later this year by calling for increases in the budget allocation for health programs that support Ryan White CARE Act programs as well as more resources for HIV prevention programs at the CDC and for AIDS research at the NIH.

President Bush's focus on the battle against HIV/AIDS in this country is welcome and long overdue. We can only hope that the President's remarks in Philadelphia mark the beginning of a comprehensive and science-based response to this deadly infectious disease that continues to plague cities and rural areas across the country.

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