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Higher Number of HIV Infections Must Translate Into Leadership & Action by U.S. Government
Date:7/31/2008

Additional Funding for HIV Prevention & Sound Public Policies Needed

WASHINGTON, July 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the world's attention turns to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic with the convening of the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is anticipated to announce on August 3rd significantly higher HIV incidence numbers for the United States. Past estimates have been 40,000 new infections per year; the new number may be more than 25% higher. In reaction to the pending announcement Dr. Gene Copello, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute, issued the following statement:

"Let this serve as yet another wake-up call to our government leaders in Washington, D.C., the States and Territories. We cannot turn our backs on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our own country. HIV/AIDS is devastating many communities, particularly gay men, African Americans, Latinos and injection drug users. The AIDS Institute calls upon President Bush, the Congress, together with both Presidential candidates, to support a National AIDS Strategy and to demonstrate their leadership by committing immediately to preventing HIV in the United States through increased funding for the CDC HIV Prevention programs, and the establishment and implementation of prevention policies and programs based on sound scientific evidence.

For next year, President Bush has proposed to cut the CDC HIV Prevention budget by $1 million. This is on top of this year's budget cut of $3.5 million. Neither the U.S. House of Representatives nor the U.S. Senate has proposed any increased funding for HIV Prevention. This is completely unacceptable, particularly in light of the new incidence numbers. Congress must increase funding for HIV Prevention for next year by at least $30 million. This is far from what is needed, but it is, at least, a necessary first step.

The AIDS Institute calls on the Administration, Congress, and the Presidential candidates to support policies and programs that are scientifically known to prevent HIV prevention, such as comprehensive sex education, HIV testing and counseling, and syringe exchange. Further, we call upon our leaders to commit the resources necessary at the National Institutes of Health to conduct behavioral research and to continue to develop such biomedical prevention approaches as microbicides and a vaccine. The government also needs to end programs and policies that are proven not to work, such as abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.

With the revelation that there are more people being infected with HIV in the U.S. each year means more people will be identified as living with HIV/AIDS. It also means they will need adequate healthcare and lifesaving medications to keep them healthy. Again, we must turn to our government to make sure the necessary resources are there for them.

The United States has made a remarkable, and much needed, commitment to global AIDS through the recent reauthorization and expansion of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This demonstrated profound leadership on the part of our government. Addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic at home in our own country requires the same leadership, action, and resolve by our leaders, and those aspiring to become our leaders. The clock is running out, there is no better time than right now to end AIDS in America."

For more information and to become involved, please contact The AIDS Institute at: (202) 835-8373, or by email at: Info@theaidsinstitute.org or http://www.TheAIDSInstitute.org

The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit agency that promotes action for social change through public policy research, advocacy and education.


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SOURCE The AIDS Institute
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