Obama’s response to AIDS criticized in new “It’s a Shame” ads

In Advocacy, News by AHF

In bus shelter ads surrounding the White House, AIDS Healthcare Foundation campaign expresses disappointment at the fact that President Obama is set to go down in history as the first President to scale back the U.S. commitment to fighting the global AIDS epidemic

Playing on iconic “Hope” rhetoric and imagery from 2008 presidential campaign, the ads aim to highlight promises unfulfilled and to spur the President to action

Washington D.C. (April 29, 2013)—AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today announced the launch of its latest advocacy campaign aimed at U.S. President Barack Obama for his lackluster response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the U.S. and globally. President Obama is set to go down in history as the first President to scale back the U.S. HIV/AIDS funding commitment. The “It’s a Shame” ads—which can be seen on ten bus shelters in the area surrounding the White House—play on the rhetoric and imagery of the iconic “Hope” ads from his 2008 presidential campaign and aim to highlight promises unfulfilled. The ads direct viewers to the campaign website: www.changeAIDSobama.org where they can learn more about the President’s dismal record on AIDS and sign a change.org petition urging the President to “Keep the Promise on AIDS.” The campaign will also appear as full-page ads in the Washington Blade and the South Florida Gay News.

President Obama has proposed reducing funding for PEPFAR and scaling back treatment. In 2013, the President proposed cutting the program by $214 million. In the 2014 proposed budget, the President doubled down on these cuts by once again proposing to slash PEPFARs budget by hundreds of million of dollars compared to previous years. In human terms, these cuts will deny treatment to at least 640,000 people. In addition, under the Obama administration’s tenure, the percentage of PEPFAR funding spent on ARV treatment has fallen from 40 percent to less than 25 percent. One immediate effect in South Africa: the respected AIDS clinic (Sini’kithemba clinic) at McCord Hospital in Durban closed as a result of reduced global funding including the PEPFAR cuts.

On the domestic front, during President Obama’s time in office waiting lists for state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) have ballooned from 43 people when he took office in January 2009 to as many as 10,000 people last year.

“The evidence is in: AIDS treatment saves lives and prevents new infections. But under the Obama administration the U.S. has retreated from promises made through PEPFAR, scaling back on its commitment to fund treatment threatening the lives of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “President Obama’s rhetoric includes the ideas that the recipient countries must take ‘ownership’ or ‘share responsibility.’ But this is just a fancy way of saying that the U.S. is not committed to staying the course in the fight against AIDS.”

Added Weinstein: “President George W. Bush – who created the landmark PEPFAR program – demonstrated that leadership on AIDS matters. Not only is it a ‘Shame’ to see Obama cut PEPFAR funding, it is an utter disgrace.”

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