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World AIDS Day December 1st: Obama Needs to Lead

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In anticipation of World AIDS Day on Monday, December 1, the Global AIDS Alliance is calling on the incoming Obama Administration to intensify the US effort against HIV/AIDS, both at home and abroad, and to resist "AIDS fatigue."

Over 100 global health advocacy organizations have signed a memo to US President-Elect Obama, laying out practical and immediate steps he should take on HIV/AIDS and related issues. The memo is online:

Carol Bergman, Acting Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance, stated:

"We are looking forward to the President-elect's new budget for Global AIDS and hope that he will reject recent proposals that would diminish the stature of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator.

Expanding resources for Global AIDS in the FY 2010 budget will be critical to achieving President-elect Obama's commitment to provide $50 billion over five years in the fight against the pandemic. The new budget provides an opportunity for the President-elect to signal his commitment to multilateralism by providing $2.7 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In recent years, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), which is situated in the State Department, has demonstrated success in getting urgently needed funds out to those on the ground that need it most. The Obama Administration should reject proposals that might undermine the effectiveness of the US response to AIDS. While a Cabinet-level Department could bring important focus to development issues, simply moving OGAC under the current structure of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) would not achieve reform.

HIV/AIDS kills approximately 5,500 people each day, mostly in Africa, leaving terrible suffering in its wake and undermining economic progress in dozens of countries. Fortunately, the world is becoming much smarter about how to fight the disease. Evidence shows that comprehensive prevention works, access to treatment is saving millions of lives, and innovative ways to approach prevention and treatment hold the promise of an even more effective response.

Obama comes into office having made a number of specific commitments, including on HIV prevention. He, along with Vice President-Elect Joe Biden and Senator Hillary Clinton, the likely next US Secretary of State, signed a pledge on this issue:

Now is not the time to slow down the flow of resources, since a strong investment is not only quite affordable but will also help forestall an even worse AIDS crisis in the future. President-elect Obama rightly wants to focus on global challenges that threaten our common humanity, and delivering on our promises in the fight against AIDS will be a critical initial test of that important vision."

SOURCE Global AIDS Alliance
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