President Obama challenged the world to usher in an AIDS-free generation during a panel discussion in George Washington University this morning to commemorate World AIDS Day, and announced that the administration is committing an addition $50 million in increased funding for domestic HIV/AIDS treatment and care: $15 million for the Ryan White program that supports care provided by HIV medical clinics across the country and $35 million for state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Obama also set a new target of helping six million Americans obtain access to HIV treatment by the end of 2013.
Citing the success of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program in providing anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS around the world, Obama admitted that new infections are still increasing in the United States and specifically identified the LGBT community:
The infection rate here has been holding steady for over a decade. There are communities in this country being devastated by this disease. When new infections among young, black, gay men increase by nearly fifty percent in three years, we need to do more to show them that their lives matter. When Latinos are dying sooner than other groups; when black women feel forgotten even though they account for most of the new cases among women, we need to do more. This fight isn’t over. Not for the 1.2 million Americans who are living with HIV right now. [...]
Now, I want to be clear about something else – since taking office, we’ve increased overall funding to combat HIV/AIDS to record levels. With bipartisan support, we reauthorized the Ryan White CARE Act. And, as I signed that bill, I was so proud to also announce that my Administration was ending the ban that prohibited people with HIV from entering America. Because of that step, next year, for the first time in two decades, we will host the International AIDS conference. So we’ve done a lot over the past three years. But we can do more.
Indeed, in the United States, medical progress now ensures that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence, but only for those who can access good medical care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost three out of four Americans with HIV are not receiving enough medicine or regular health care “to stay healthy or prevent themselves from transmitting the virus to others.” Out of the 1.2 million Americans with HIV, 850,000 aren’t receiving regular treatment to keep the virus at a low enough level to prevent transmission or hurt their own health and 240,000 Americans don’t even know they’re infected with HIV.
Next year, “the CDC will require 75% of about $359 million in annual HIV prevention grants to state and local health departments to go toward programs that get more people tested and into regular care.” It is also spearheading a $2.4 million campaign “to promote testing among black gay and bisexual men, who account for 22 percent of new infections.”