President Barack Obama will convene HIV/AIDS experts at the White House this afternoon to launch the nation's first National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The strategy will aim to cut new infections in the U.S. by 25 percent over the next five years. A second goal will be to ensure that 85 percent of patients begin receiving care within three months of diagnosis.
The strategy will be formally released at The White House at 2PM ET—Rod 2.0 was invited but cannot attend—and can be read and downloaded HERE. The White House unveils the NHAS as the XVIII International AIDS Conference begins this weekend in Vienna.
The strategy will "concentrate HIV prevention efforts at the highest-risk population", which include men who have sex with men (MSM) and black Americans. Black men who have sex with men are at the highest risk. The NHAS will also expand HIV screening of inmates and the Justice Department "would fast-track investigations of discrimination involving those with HIV," adds the Los Angeles Times.
But the strategy entails no new additional spending and some HIV/AIDS advocates are not impressed. Michael Weinstein, who heads the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, tells the LA Times: "We have thousands people on a waiting list for AIDS drugs. So, the whole premise is that we are going to test more and treat more. But we don't have the capacity. Why should anyone be tested if they don't have access to medications?"
New York City-based Housing Works is more blunt and calls the NHAS "a step backwards" and asks: "Would President Obama suggest that we only clean up 25 percent of the Gulf oil spill."
The NHAS come at the same the recession has created a major funding crisis for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Over the weekend, the White House announced a $25 million emergency re-allocation to ADAP. HIV advocates say an additional $126M is needed.
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