July 20, 2010
I'm sure many of you have seen the headlines, and it's really cool being here and hearing those words first hand, and to also hear the things that aren't making the headlines. One of the big news events yesterday was President Clinton's opening plenary address, where as the headlines here recount, he urged international AIDS organizations to become more efficient and spend less funds traveling to meetings and more funds treating patients. He did say something like that, but it was two sentences in a talk that lasted more than 30 minutes! He also talked about how we should not have to choose between treating people in the developing world and in higher income countries.
He said, "AIDS remains a real challenge in America. Prevalence among Black men is three percent and AIDS is the number three killer of African American women in their prime. And the economic crisis has also hurt domestic care. The Federal AIDS Drug Assistance Program has also not continued to keep up with demand. Even in the United States for [the first] time in years and years there are 1,600 people on waiting lists in a dozen states. Recently President Obama announced a new focus on our domestic challenges and I'm encouraged by that. But I would also like to say that the domestic drug manufacturers in America who provide our medicine have been paid for years now at roughly $10,000 a person a year. And they have recovered enormous amount[s] of their cost. They could take care of those 1,700 people tomorrow, fairly allocate the burden, and never miss it [applause] and I think that's what they should do."
That's nine sentences. I'm wondering, did that make the news back home?
He also talked about other past choices that have proven false: the choice between prevention and care; and the current false choice: the debate between investing in global ARV programs and maternal/child health programs. He addressed the current crisis in AIDS funding and talked about the need for advocates to continue to advocate and to educate members of congress on the need for HIV/AIDS funding. In his words, "You have two options here. You can demonstrate and call the President names or we can go get some more votes in Congress to get some more money. My experience is that the second choice is a better one and far better pay off."
It's Bill Clinton saying it as it is -- without the censorship of elected office. It's a few minutes well spent. My guess is you'll enjoy it and be inspired. I was.
Founded in 1994, AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families (AACYF) is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the partnership between consumers and providers -- they are the voice of women, children, youth and families living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. AACYF works to enhance and expand access to quality, comprehensive, family-centered care to America's women, children and youth affected by HIV/AIDS. For more information on AIDS Alliance, visit www.aids-alliance.org.