“No coherent message on AIDS from White House”
Press Conference, TUESDAY, July 24th @ 4pm, International AIDS Conference Media Center PCR #2
AIDS conference organizers borrow page from Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s playbook by requiring mandatory screening of campaign style Obama video message prior to every conference satellite session; AHF to criticize WH in face of administration’s ongoing indifference to domestic & global AIDS epidemic
WASHINGTON (July 24, 2012)—On the heels of another round of AIDS protests hosted by many other groups targeting the White House and where it is expected there may be arrests for civil disobedience today, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), will host a press conference TODAY, Tuesday, July 24th at 4:00 PM Eastern, at the International AIDS Conference Media Center, PCR #2, to criticize the White House in the face of the administration’s ongoing indifference to domestic & global AIDS epidemic. Separately, the AIDS conference organizers at IAS (likely at the request of the White House) seem to have borrowed a page from Vladimir Putin’s Russian playbook by requiring mandatory screening of a campaign style Obama video message on AIDS prior to every conference satellite session—after Obama turned down their request to address the 20,000 conference attendees on opening night. The Obama video before each satellite (satellites for which conference participants paid up to $12,000 to host) appears hastily assembled and contains factual errors on AIDS—including crediting the introduction of the AIDS drug AZT to the year 1997—a full decade AFTER its introduction as an AIDS treatment.
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: TODAY, July 23rd 2012—4 PM
WHERE: IAC Media Center, PCR #2
“There is no coherent message on AIDS from President Obama and this White House whatsoever,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “After he rolled out his National AIDS Strategy with much fanfare two years ago, waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which helps low income Americans with HIV/AIDS get access to lifesaving AIDS drugs, swelled from 2,000 people to over 10,000—the highest under any president. Today, Obama is also seeking to cut $214 million from PEPFAR, the respected global AIDS program started by George Bush. Obama Administration officials now speak in the highly offensive term of ‘treatment mortgages’—referring to the lifelong commitment to providing care once you start an HIV positive individual on antiretroviral therapy. Meanwhile, via its PEPFAR cuts, the Obama administration has, in essence, foreclosed on the treatment of 5,000 South Africans—including 1,000 children—with the closure of the McCord Hospital AIDS treatment clinic in Durban. What we know works is testing and treatment. Meanwhile, the president and his staff are hijacking the good works of many dedicated people working in the fight against AIDS for their own spin with a hodgepodge of efforts. He couldn’t even put a red ribbon on the White House.”
AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Waiting Lists Balloon Under President Obama
As of July 19th, there were 1,805 Americans on ADAP waiting lists in nine states (including 562 in Virginia, 445 in Georgia, 299 in Louisiana and 275 in North Carolina) waiting to receive lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications through the nation’s network of AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP).
Last Friday, on the eve of the opening of the International AIDS Conference here in Washington, the White House opportunistically announced $69 million in grants or requests for funding from states to address and eliminate these current ADAP wait lists; however, this was NOT new money: the Obama administration was designating and taking credit for money that had already been appropriated and approved in 2011 by last World AIDS Day (December 1, 2011)—money which should have been available and released long ago to get people with HIV/AIDS on lifesaving treatment.
Ironically, on July 13, 2010—the eve of the previous International AIDS Conference in Vienna—the Obama administration unveiled his ‘National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States,’ At that time, (July 9,2010), there were 2,291 people on waiting lists in 12 states including 605 in Florida—which has the third highest incidence of AIDS in the nation.
In the intervening two years since HHS Secretary Sebelius unveiled the Obama AIDS strategy at a White House briefing, the President stood by silently as ADAP waiting lists swelled to over 10,000 Americans—the highest ADAP waiting lists have ever been under any president.
“The national strategy was spin, as people got sicker and sicker without access to medication over these past two years,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “All around, a real disappointment.”
AHF Rolls Out “Who’s Better on AIDS?” Obama/Bush Comparison Ad Campaign in DC
As part of ongoing advocacy efforts to spur President Obama and the administration to do more on AIDS, AHF has brought back its controversial ad headlined “Who’s Better on AIDS?” The ad—which first ran in 2010 in conjunction with the president’s unveiling of his ‘National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States,’ will appear at 16 bus shelter advertisements in Washington near the White House—features a split screen head shot of Presidents Obama and George W. Bush merged into one—half of Obama’s face on the left of the ad, and half of Bush’s on the right. President Bush created PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), the successful US global AIDS program, which has also continues to be neglected and underfunded on Obama’s watch.