The “correct policy decisions” are critical to ending the epidemic, said Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute.
Bans on needle-sharing programs should be lifted in the U.S., and only comprehensive sexuality education should be funded, not “failed” abstinence programs, said Julie Scofield, executive director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.
Gay men will be a primary focus at the conference because worldwide they are the one population in all countries in which HIV/AIDS cases are growing, according to the Lancet materials released Thursday.
In the United States, black MSM are “at the center” of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and major inroads must be made to address their issues, Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Wednesday.
“In 10 years, if we do not reverse this trend, there will be another 500,000 Americans living with HIV,” warned Cornelius Baker, senior advisor for the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition. “We cannot have that. We need to work together to end HIV, beginning now.”
This week, advocates hailed news of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Truvada, a pill-a-day regimen that can prevent HIV transmission in HIV-negative persons who engage in risky behavior.
The recent FDA approval of OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, an over-the-counter, mouth-swab test that gives results within an hour, also drew kudos because an estimated 20 percent of Americans with HIV don’t know they are infected.
However, advocates lamented the political resistance to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), saying that it is key to ensuring health care for people with HIV/AIDS.
The ACA, as well as Medicaid, Medicare and the Ryan White program, are “all critical to ensuring people with HIV receive treatment,” said Ronald Johnson, vice president of policy and advocacy at AIDS United. “It’s time to stop the political fighting and move to full implementation” of health-care reform in all states.
Meanwhile, despite the fresh research and products, the issue of burnout on the disease lurks as a factor — “fatigue and lack of memory” are both threats to a robust AIDS response, Dr. Kevin De Cock, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s center for global health, blogged Thursday at ONE, the international anti-poverty organization.
Said Ms. Harden, the AIDS historian: “We might get fatigued” by the AIDS battle, but “AIDS is particularly insidious in that it cuts down young adults who need to rear the next generation, who need to do the bulk of society’s work.”
That’s why one of the messages for the AIDS conferences is “that they need to keep going,” she said. “Somehow, they’ve got to convince the wealthy countries — and the United States is wealthy, despite the economy — to do what needs to be done in the rest of the world.”
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Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor. Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
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