This week marks the first anniversary of the release of the White House’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and some organizations are lauding the Obama administration while others say it has not done enough.
The three primary goals of the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy (.pdf) are:
- Reducing HIV incidence
- Increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes
- Reducing HIV-related health disparities
The National AIDS Minority Council points out that:
One year after President Obama released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the community has seen significant progress in ensuring a coordinated and efficient response to the epidemic. This Administration has shown a continued commitment to fulfilling the promise of the Strategy, demonstrated both by its 2012 budget request as well as its call for implementation plans from all federal agencies providing AIDS related services.
We have already seen improved transparency, inter-agency coordination, collaboration and accountability, as well as efforts to target resources to communities and regions most heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS. While not perfect, initiatives like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning and Implementation (ECHPP) and Health and Human Services’ 12 Cities Project are promising programs aimed at identifying ways to effectively allocate funds and identify gaps in infrastructure and services.
The AIDS Minority Council adds that much more work remains to be done. According to the group, in order to be successful, the Strategy must continue to have the full support of the Obama administration, the public health community, and Congress.
For its part, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has launched its “What has the President done about AIDS?” national campaign.
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, says that after two and a half years in office, President Obama has little to show on AIDS domestically or globally: U.S. AIDS programs have been starved, and more than 8,600 Americans in 13 states are on AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting lists, denied medication, while thousands are being disenrolled entirely as states change their patient eligibility criteria.
According to the campaign webpage, television ads will run on CNN in several markets, starting this week in the Miami-Dade market. Florida has the most severe AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list crisis, with more than 3,500 AIDS patients currently on its waiting list.
The funding shortage of the Drug Assistance Program, which has grown over the last two years, has become one of the most urgent crises for people living with HIV and AIDS. The lack of funding has prompted about 20 states to implement cost-containment measures that include reduced drug lists, reduced eligibility criteria, and the now-infamous waiting lists.
Housing Works points out that:
The majority of the people served by ADAPs are black and Hispanic. Many AIDS groups, including Housing Works, have launched protest after protest demanding state and federal government take action. Obama’s proposed $105 million increase in federal funding for 2012 falls short of the $126 million requested by AIDS advocates to tackle the crisis.
Housing Works “is the largest community-based AIDS service organization in the United States, as well as the nation’s largest minority-controlled AIDS service organization.”
Charles King, president and CEO of Housing Works, has written that “President Obama’s plan fails to identify HIV/AIDS in the U.S. as the emergency that it is—and if we want him to do so, we’ve got to take him to the task.”