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Bill Clinton and Other Leaders Call For 'Renewal of Battle Against AIDS' in the United States at Democratic Convention
Date:8/29/2008

Advocates disappointed that Obama failed to address the issue

DENVER, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaking at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, Former President Bill Clinton called for a reinvigorated response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. In praising Presidential nominee Barack Obama, Clinton said, "He will continue and enhance our nation's commendable global leadership in an area in which I am deeply involved: the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, including -- and this is very important -- a renewal of the battle against HIV and AIDS here at home."

Clinton's comments came three weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new estimates indicating that the HIV infection rate in the United States is 40% higher than previously thought. Every year, over 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV, a rate that has not fallen in eight years and is higher than it was for most of the 1990s, according to CDC.

Several other speakers at related Convention events called for the development of a National AIDS Strategy for the United States, including Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Maxine Waters, Michelle Obama, and actor and activist Danny Glover. The Democratic Party Platform includes a call for a National AIDS Strategy and Senator Obama during the primary season pledged to develop a National AIDS Strategy if elected.

However, AIDS advocates were disappointed that although Senator Obama demonstrated leadership during the primary season he did not address the issue in his speech. Nor was there visibility of those living with HIV; for the first time since 1992 there was not an HIV+ speaker at the Democratic Convention.

"It was disappointing that on the occasion of this historic nomination, that one of the greatest health threats facing America today was not more front and center during this year's Convention," said Phill Wilson, Founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. "This is my fourth Democratic Convention and it has never been so difficult to put HIV/AIDS on the agenda. At a time when the AIDS epidemic is worse in our nation's capital than in many parts of Sub Saharan Africa, how can AIDS not be a featured as a priority by our Democratic Presidential nominee?"

David Munar, a HIV+ delegate from Illinois and the President of the National Association of People Living with HIV (NAPWA), was encouraged by the focus on the important themes of health care reform, reducing unwanted pregnancies, and tackling the devastation of disease across the globe but was "disappointed that there was not a specific call to action by the Presidential or Vice-Presidential nominees to end the AIDS epidemic in America." "Obama has been a leader on HIV/AIDS here in Illinois, and I hope that he will continue to personally address the issue during this presidential campaign. His direct involvement and leadership remains critical."

Other surrogates did address HIV/AIDS during related Convention events. Speaking on Monday at a luncheon to recognize the leadership of 26 Members of Congress on HIV/AIDS, Danny Glover said a National AIDS Strategy is needed in the US. "First we thought AIDS was someone else's problem," Glover said. "Lately we've recognized it is a problem in other countries. But while we've been tackling AIDS overseas, we've forgotten about the home front.

"It's time we demand better results from our domestic response to AIDS," Glover continued. "That is why Senator Obama has called for a National AIDS Strategy. We have to have a plan of action to tackle AIDS in America.

"A National AIDS Strategy has to focus us on achieving concrete outcomes, including bringing the HIV infection rate down and increasing access to care," Glover said. "A Strategy has to better coordinate the work of federal agencies and use resources most effectively. And it has got to move us away from basing health policy on conservative social agendas, and instead design programs based on what works - like comprehensive sex education, condom promotion, and needle exchange."

Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Maxine Waters also called for a National AIDS Strategy at the Monday event. Michelle Obama noted the need for a National AIDS Strategy in her remarks at the luncheon for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Convention delegates on Tuesday.

More than 1000 individuals and over 300 organizations, including public health departments, faith based communities, civil rights groups, health care centers and AIDS organizations throughout the country have endorsed a Call to Action for a National AIDS Strategy at http://www.nationalaidsstrategy.org.

More information about the National AIDS Strategy is available at http://www.nationalaidsstrategy.org.


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SOURCE AIDS Action
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