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Advocates Urge Obama to Address HIV in the U.S.

What three things would you advise President Barack Obama to change now that would make a difference in HIV prevention and treatment in the United States?

President Barack Obama

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Pick an AIDS Czar!

Cornelius Baker


(1 min.)
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Cornelius Baker, National Policy Adviser, National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition, Atlanta, Ga.

The first thing that I would advise President Obama is that we need a senior leadership person who will have crosscutting authority to ensure that agencies are not only coordinating and planning with each other, but that resources are being allocated appropriately to HIV services. Read More >>

Acknowledge Women's HIV Risk!

Carrie Broadus

Carrie Broadus, Executive Director, Women Alive, Los Angeles, Calif.

Advice for President Obama:

  1. Develop a better, parallel risk model for women at sexual risk for HIV stemming from data on social and cultural factors (i.e., race, history of violence or domestic abuse, education and income level, social network and geographic location), which more accurately predict women's risk and allow them to better assess their own level of risk.
Read More >>

Coordinate Efforts Across Government Departments!

Larry Bryant


(4 min.)
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Larry Bryant, Director of National Advocacy, Housing Works, Washington, D.C.

It's difficult to narrow it down to three things, but the idea that our president-to-be has endorsed a national AIDS strategy opens the door to having an open and honest discussion that goes towards the best solutions and best prevention methods down the road.

One, obviously, would be to have dedicated staff within his administration that are cross-pollinated from different departments: Health and Human Services, CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], Housing and Urban Development -- all the different related agencies that could provide input towards being able to direct resources to the primary needs of the communities most affected in the epidemic.
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Sex Education Is HIV Prevention!


(1 min.)
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Gwendolyn Carter, Prevention Outreach Coordinator, SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

First, I am completely for age-appropriate sex education or HIV education. I think it's important, definitely, in elementary schools. The way that the world is these days, children are starting younger; people are learning more, younger. Learning the correct way to go about things -- even sex and sexuality -- is very important. I think that that should be in place.
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Fund Syringe Exchange!

Allan Clear

Allan Clear, Executive Director, Harm Reduction Coalition, New York City

  1. President Obama should work with Congress to remove the federal ban on the funding of syringe exchange programs.
  2. He should appoint a Director of National Drug Control Policy who bases drug policy in public health and not within a criminal/moral framework.
  3. Implement a national AIDS strategy
  4. Establish universal health care for all Americans.

The HIV Epidemic Continues -- Pay Attention!

Jim Curran, M.D., M.P.H.


(1 min.)
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Jim Curran, M.D., M.P.H., Co-Director, Emory Center for AIDS Research, Atlanta, Ga.; Former Head of CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]'s HIV/AIDS Task Force in the Early 1980s

The HIV efforts in the United States that preceded for 27 years, particularly the HIV prevention efforts, have stagnated over the past decade or so -- in part because of complacency. So I would encourage President Obama, first of all, to call attention to the extent of the ongoing HIV transmission in the U.S., with as many as 60,000 people per year becoming infected. Second of all, I would ask for a renewal of commitments to integrate HIV care and treatment and to pay attention to the ongoing epidemic. Thirdly, we need to look for innovation not only in HIV prevention, but also in HIV research and care.

Develop a National AIDS Plan!

 

Natasha Davis, Ed.D., M.P.H., Clinical Instructor of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.

I would advise President Obama to develop a national HIV/AIDS plan for treatment and prevention in the U.S. I find it confusing as to how we could require other countries receiving financial assistance from the U.S. to develop a national strategy to address the epidemic when one is lacking in our own backyard.
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Bring PEPFAR to the Southern U.S.!

Martin Delaney


(2 min.)
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Martin Delaney, Longtime HIV/AIDS Activist; Founding Director, Project Inform, San Francisco, Calif.

The first thing would be that I would want to see President Obama create something like a PEPFAR [U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] program for the Eastern Seaboard and southeastern United States, where there's a horrible spread of HIV, coupled with people not getting into health care and not getting diagnosed even until they are in advanced disease. They're presenting at doctors' offices with cases of pneumocystis pneumonia and 150 T cells. That's just like 1986! That's unheard of in the gay white male community, but it's almost the norm in many of these places along the seaboard and in the southeastern United States.
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Mandate Sex and Life-Skills Education, Wherever Services Are Given!

Dazón Dixon Diallo, M.P.H.


(2 min.)
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Dazón Dixon Diallo, M.P.H., Founder and President, SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

If I could advise President Obama, three things I think that would immediately need to change in terms of HIV prevention as well as treatment are: One, that there be a federal mandate for comprehensive sex and life skills education that's age appropriate through all the ages; and that it be integrated into wherever there is service delivery, whether it be in the education system, in the public health system, in the overall health care delivery system or in the labor force. Whether I'm elderly and in an assisted living situation or whether I'm a teenager in public or private school, we should all be getting appropriate comprehensive information and education.
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Mass Imprisonment Impacts HIV Risk!

Kenyon Farrow


(2 min.)
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Kenyon Farrow, Public Education Director, Queers for Economic Justice, New York City

The first thing I would do is actually create some kind of coordinated strategy. I've been a part of a group of people for the last year or so who've been pushing for a national AIDS strategy in the U.S., the way HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and care, and research in fact, function in these kind of silos with very little coordination. I think that's first of all, to adopt a coordinated national AIDS strategy.
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Declare HIV/AIDS a National Health Emergency!

Ingrid Floyd


(3 min.)
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Ingrid Floyd, Executive Director, Iris House, New York City

If we look at, historically, where HIV has been and where we are now and consider that we still have staggering HIV rates -- especially in communities of color and among women -- I would definitely first challenge the Obama administration to declare that HIV/AIDS is a national health emergency in the United States.

With over 50,000 people becoming infected annually with a preventable disease, I think that President Obama should definitely declare this to be a health emergency so that there is widespread attention on how to prevent and how to treat HIV in all communities.
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Create an AIDS Commission That Truly Represents the U.S. Epidemic!

Bambi Gaddist, Ph.D.

Bambi Gaddist, Ph.D., Executive Director, South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council, Columbia, S.C.

  • Draw attention to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the United States; initiate team to create first National HIV/AIDS Plan.
Read More >>

Provide Universal Health Care!

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.


(2 min.)
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Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Director, Johns Hopkins AIDS Service; Director, Garey Lambert Research Center, Baltimore, Md.

The first thing -- and this is a pipe dream because I know it can't happen immediately -- what we need is health care for everybody. Then we wouldn't have to worry about Ryan White funding and ADAP [AIDS Drug Assistance Program] funding and inequalities from state to state in what people with HIV get.
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Promote Partnerships Between Government and Nonprofit Organizations!

Marjorie Hill


(2 min.)
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Marjorie Hill, Executive Director, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), New York City

When he was a candidate, President Obama made a commitment to support the National AIDS Strategy. He has reiterated that commitment as recently as today [December 1, 2008], in a World AIDS Day statement. The United States requires foreign countries to put together a national coordinated plan, something that 20 years into the epidemic, the United States does not require of itself. The National AIDS Strategy would in fact mean that we would have that plan, have that coordination, and could really look at what are best practices and how to reach the most affected communities. I am very optimistic that President Obama will follow through on this commitment. Read More >>

Eliminate Health Disparities!

Bethsheba Johnson


(3 min.)
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Bethsheba Johnson, Clinical Coordinator, Luck Care Center, Chicago, Ill.

The three things that I would advise President Obama to change immediately to make a difference to HIV prevention and treatment in the U.S. would be, first, to develop and implement his proposed national HIV strategy that guarantees treatment and care for all people with HIV in the United States, which includes housing, which is so pertinent to the lives of our HIV-positive people.
Read More >>

Develop a Comprehensive National AIDS Strategy!

Jeff Johnson


(1 min.)
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Jeff Johnson, Journalist, Activist and Host, BET (Black Entertainment Television)'s The Truth, New York City

The first thing he needs to do is take a step back and say we need a national AIDS strategy. I think it's got to be comprehensive. It's not good enough to just try to target one issue. There's got to be a comprehensive strategy in dealing with how we are educating about HIV, how we are talking about HIV, how we are funding programs, how we are dealing with prescription drugs. And this is domestically.

Over the last eight years, we've done a great job of engaging the continent of Africa, but an awful job of engaging our own communities. So I think that that to me is the first and only thing that needs to happen. And as result of that, we'll begin to see some specific strategies. Read More >>

Promote Condom Use!

William Johnson, M.D.


(3 min.)
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William Johnson, M.D., Medical Director, Luck Care Center; President, Southside Health Association, Chicago, Ill.

To make a difference for HIV treatment in [the] U.S., I would advise President Obama:

  • Number one, there needs to be a lot more promotion of condom use: How to use condoms. When to use condoms. Why it's important to use condoms. Stop being so afraid of condoms! You see more commercials about alcohol and cars, all kind of things, but there's hardly any advertisement on condoms. We need to have more surrounding condom use and condoms, and how important that is. I think that coming from the President, I think that would help especially with some of our younger men and their responsibility surrounding that. I think that's one thing.
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Help People Get Educated About Their Bodies!

NaShawn Kearse


(1 min.)
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NaShawn Kearse, Actor, Brooklyn, N.Y.

I'm wondering if it's possible to open centers in the inner cities where people can go and sit down and be taught what to do to correctly protect themselves and be responsible with their bodies. And also, to open research places to find cures for the disease; and open clinics where people can get tested so that they know beforehand so it can help alleviate more people getting infected with HIV/AIDS.

Forget Abstinence-Only -- Promote HIV Prevention That Works!

Mark King


(1 min.)
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Mark King, Author and Longtime HIV/AIDS Activist, Atlanta, Ga.

The first thing I would ask President Obama to do is to get rid of, once and for all, abstinence-based education. It has crippled the efforts of organizations and the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] -- all of us -- to talk frankly about HIV transmission and prevention. Abstinence-based education is a failure and we need to move on and we need to get back to the basics of how HIV is transmitted and how you can prevent it.
Read More >>

Fund Underfunded Initiatives!

U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA)


(1 min.)
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U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Representative, Ninth Congressional District, East Bay, Calif.

We have all looked at what we've been doing over the last 10 years and we're at the point now where we believe that a National AIDS Strategy should be put together, just as we've worked on the international front with the president's initiative called PEPFAR [U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief]. I personally think we need a domestic PEPFAR.
Read More >>

Guidelines for Getting Services Shouldn't "Keep Recipients Down"!

Marilyn A. Moering, M.P.H., Executive Director, Building Bridges, Inc., Jackson, Miss.

  1. More money for HIV prevention activities that don't necessarily fit into an evidence-based intervention but that are culturally appropriate and specific to the issues of the targeted population.

Read More >>

Fund Grassroots Organizations!

Nyrobi Moss


(1 min.)
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Nyrobi Moss, Sexual Health Educator and Trainer, SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

The first thing that I would say is the allocation of more funding to grassroots organizations that are doing work in HIV prevention and in treatment.
Read More >>

Address Factors That Lead to HIV Infection!

Heidi Nass 


(2 min.)
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Heidi Nass, Treatment Educator and Advocate, Madison, Wis.

The thing that I would like to see -- which would be the first time we've ever seen this -- is what I imagine any one of us who care about the HIV epidemic and are fighting it and living in it would like to see: a national AIDS strategy with measurable goals and a plan for getting ahead of the HIV epidemic. It's inexcusable, given our stature as the wealthiest country on the planet, that we're not more out in front of this epidemic.
Read More >>

Recognize Necessity of Mental Health Services!

Paul Plate 


(3 min.)
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Paul Plate, Executive Director, Positive Impact, Atlanta, Ga.

There are a couple of things that I can think of to advise President Obama. First one would be, regarding prevention: We have been told that the message needs to be about abstinence and we understand how important that is to some populations. However, in our prevention work and in our mental health work, we think it's shortsighted and needs to be part of a larger message about how to not be put in a position where you're exposed to HIV or where you are potentially exposing someone else.

The message needs to be more about mental health issues that are related to how we make decisions, about what we do with our lives that may affect prevention. Abstinence is only part of a larger message. It's not as effective when it's not combined with some other issues.
Read More >>

Get People Active in Their Wellness -- and Reduce Costs!

Rev. Guy Pujol, D.Min.

Rev. Guy Pujol, D.Min., Executive Director, AIDS Alliance for Faith and Health, Atlanta, Ga.

  1. Adopt (and then follow) a national AIDS strategy. The U.S. does not have a national AIDS strategy (even though it requires one of other countries that receive international AIDS funding from the U.S.). The U.S. needs a national AIDS strategy that can drive a more coordinated, accountable and outcomes-oriented response to the domestic HIV epidemic.
Read More >>

Educate Everyone About HIV/AIDS!

Philip Rafshoon


(1 min.)
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Philip Rafshoon, Owner, Outwrite Bookstore and Coffee House, Atlanta, Ga.

That's pretty much a no-brainer because there are three really important things that were so mishandled before. Number one is education. Make sure that everybody who possibly could be gets educated on what AIDS is about, how to prevent it and how to treat it.

Two is needle exchange programs. They should be made available.

Three is education about HIV prevention. It is the most important thing -- and access to condoms.

Learn Your Sexual Footprint!

Sheryl Lee Ralph


(1 min.)
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Sheryl Lee Ralph, Actor, Performer, Longtime HIV/AIDS Activist

One, it's not going to take just the government alone. It's going to take people. It's going to take charitable organizations. It's going to take foundations. It's going to take institutions. It's going to take corporate people to get involved solidly on this disease.
Read More >>

Focus on HIV Prevention!

Sandy Thurman


(1 min.)
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Sandy Thurman, Faculty, Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, Ga.; Former "AIDS Czar" Under Former U.S. President Bill Clinton

First of all, I don't know how much difference this will actually make in HIV prevention and treatment, but I would ask President Obama to get the Secretary of Health and Human Services to sign the waiver that allows people with HIV/AIDS to come into the United States and out of the United States freely, so we can finally have an international AIDS conference in the United States after all these years.
Read More >>

Increase Funding to All HIV Research Areas!

Loreen Willenberg


(3 min.)
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Loreen Willenberg, Executive Director, Zephyr Foundation, Sacramento, Calif.

In regard to prevention strategy: First, I believe that President Obama could and should promote scientific and evidence-based curriculum in all educational institutions on HIV/AIDS. Obviously, eliminating any moral ideology as a prevention message would be beneficial. Connect those messages to the facts. Also, eliminate any abstinence-only funding qualifiers to available federal prevention education grants.

Secondly, develop, implement and maintain through realistic funding stream a comprehensive program to support the CDC'S [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations on universal HIV testing in order to increase the number of citizens who know their HIV status.
Read More >>

Fund HIV Prevention -- It Works!

Andrea Williams


(1 min.)
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Andrea Williams, Community Health Worker, Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Real-Life Inspiration for 2007 Film Life Support Starring Queen Latifah

President Obama needs to educate himself and find out that HIV is an epidemic here [in the United States]. We have a war here that we need to fight.

We need more prevention money. Prevention does work. We can't document it, but it can work. I know. I've been out there in the streets. It works.

Get People Into Care!

Phill Wilson


(1 min.)
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Phill Wilson, Founder and Executive Director, Black AIDS Institute, Los Angeles, Calif.

The first thing the new president really needs to do is invest in a national AIDS strategy. Now, when the U.S. invests in aid to foreign countries around HIV, we require that they have a national AIDS strategy. Yet, we don't have a national AIDS strategy in this country, and as my grandmother used to say, "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail." We have a hodgepodge collection of programs and agencies that work at cross-purposes, so we need to develop an AIDS strategy.
Read More >>

Lift the Travel Ban for People With HIV!

Jorge Zepeda


(2 min.)
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Jorge Zepeda, Manager of Latino Programs, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Francisco, Calif.

One thing that we have witnessed is that needle exchange is a great prevention strategy. I would advise President Obama to work in public policy that facilitates needle exchange in places that don't have it, because we know that that strategy really impacts HIV prevention.

The other recommendation would be to lift the travel restriction for HIV-positive individuals that live outside of the States. How would this move impact prevention and treatment? Because then we could host International AIDS Conferences and other conferences; and we could enrich our knowledge on HIV prevention and also share our knowledge of treatment.
Read More >>


Do you think Obama should make a commitment to a National AIDS Strategy? Here's how you can remind him.


 

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