Those of us who deal with this every day know the costs and the pain of HIV.
Not being viewed as an urgent health problem concerns me because we have to be front and center when it comes time for the appropriation of federal funds. It is a lot harder to compete with dollars that could be spent on cancer or obesity – two health problems that Americans do view as pressing.
President Obama announced some new initiatives to cut new infections, increase the number of people who get tested and treated, and reduce the disparities in access to HIV care. These include goals to be reached by 2015:
•Reduce new HIV infections by 25% to 42,225 from about 56,300.
•Cut the rate of the virus’ spread by 30%, from 5 people a year infected by every 100 living with HIV to 3.5 per 100.
•Increase from 79% to 90% the percentage of HIV-positive people who know they’re infected with the virus.
• Increase the percentage of people newly diagnosed with HIV who get treatment within 90 day to 85% (35,078), from 65% today (26,824).
But the President didn’t announce any new funding to pay for these goals.
At a time when we are struggling with how to pay for the people on the ADAP waiting lists, it is hard to envision how we will pay for the federal government efforts to reach these goals. Let’s be honest here, there is a huge federal deficit and an economy that is not going to generate the kind of tax revenues that will support additional spending.
The only answer is that each one of us in the HIV community must redouble our efforts to get the word out and keep it out there. We’ve got to talk, walk, sing, and even dance to share how HIV is spread and how it can be treated.
We can make these goals, but we each need to make them our own.