The United States has had a strategy for dealing with the AIDS crisis on a global level for a number of years — PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. PEPFAR is an international program headed by an “AIDS czar,” which is a State Department position that currently enjoys an ambassador’s rank. Although this program has been hailed as a dramatic success story overseas, and has enjoyed many victories in the fight to curb HIV transmission, the United States does not have an internal strategy to deal with the AIDS crisis. The United States needs a domestic, national, and comprehensive AIDS strategy.
Given that AIDS is now the leading cause of death among black women between 25 and 34, and that in one American city, Washington, D.C., 1 in 20 residents is HIV-positive, this is a national imperative.
The Obama campaign, in August 2008, wrote into the Democratic Party Platform a commitment to implementing a national AIDS strategy: the new President has made a commitment to crafting a strategy to deal with the presence of HIV/AIDS at a national policy level. We wholeheartedly support this effort, and know that ensuring a national AIDS strategy will be beneficial for those who seek to develop a vaccine to cure HIV, those who care for AIDS patients, and those who strive to prevent new infections every day.
The difficulty in enacting this strategy is immense: federal, state, and local authorities will need to work together to ensure that programs are effectively and efficiently delivered. Beyond the implementation of services, policy towards basic research and the funding of awareness education must be addressed. [Many people are not aware that university researchers’ time is often spent attempting to find funding sources rather than performing that research itself. A true victory for vaccine development can only be achieved if the national strategy emphasizes science and enabling scientists.]
Until There’s A Cure is hopeful that the new administration will push for comprehensive AIDS policy and strategy in the United States — without diminishing the enormous good that PEPFAR has achieved around the world. Without a comprehensive national policy to deal with HIV/AIDS, true success in the fight against this disease will remain elusive.
-Until There’s A Cure