Refocusing the Fight Against AIDS
January 30, 2009
This weekend about 2,000 gay and lesbian activists from across the nation will gather in Denver for the annual Creating Change conference, and refocusing on the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic will be a major part of its agenda, organizers say.
The issue regained prominence following CDC's August report showing the gay community lost ground against HIV during this decade. In response, activists intend to press the new Obama administration for a national AIDS strategy, including universal health care for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The New York City-based Gay Men's Health Crisis is pressing in particular for "true condom availability" in schools and prisons; federal funding for needle-exchange programs; and prevention messages showing gays and lesbians being affectionate, toward the goal of promoting safe sex as "a healthy part of the adult experience." Science must drive the strategy, said Marjorie Hill, GMHC's CEO.
Younger gay men have no experience of the initial epidemic, when men were "dropping like flies," Hill said, noting that she knows younger gay men who say "I can do one pill a day, right? That's like a vitamin, right?' For better or worse, fear does in fact influence behavior. But so does knowledge," she said.
Advocates will call for increased, targeted funding to fight HIV/AIDS among minorities, especially African Americans. In the United States, almost half of the 56,000 people who acquire HIV every year are African Americans, though they account for just 12 percent of the population, according to CDC.
Recent public discourse about HIV/AIDS has mostly centered on the disease as a problem of sub-Saharan Africa, but the new CDC data are serving as a rallying point, said David Munar, vice president of policy and communications at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. "There is a new sense of optimism that the new president and Congress will act on these data and refocus attention nationally on the epidemic at home," Munar said.
1.30.2009; Jennifer Brown
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.