WASHINGTON (July 15, 2013)—U.S. President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order earlier today that is intended to step up the administration’s response to AIDS epidemic here in the United States. The order follows on the heels of Obama’s recent trip to Africa during which the President’s commitment to fight against AIDS was challenged at home and in the three countries he visited. It also followed widespread criticism in the media, including a Page One Washington Post article titled, ‘Bush AIDS policies shadow Obama in Africa’, which ran on July 1st.
“Actions speak louder than words. We have had other grand announcements from the White House on AIDS that turned out to be empty words. If indeed the President has finally understood the importance of this issue and will proactively address our concerns, then we will applaud that effort, but not until then,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). “We have wasted 4 1/2 years trying to educate this president about the tragedy that is AIDS in the world. The war against AIDS has not been won – keep your promise. Mr. President play a real leadership role here and abroad – your legacy depends on it.”
“We are hopeful that this may finally mean action, but are concerned that it may just signal more delay. We are now in year five of his administration, and President Obama is still studying the problem? We have known about these ‘recent advances’ for years. We have known about the effectiveness of treatment as prevention for years. We have known about gaps in the ‘continuum of care’ for years. We have known about the need to get people diagnosed and into care sooner for years,” said Tom Myers, Chief of Public Affairs and General Counsel for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Why is he only now asking for suggestions from his administration on how to address this? Why is he not demanding reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act to address this?”
Obama’s Executive Order creates something that will be known as the ‘HIV Care Continuum Initiative,’ which, according to the order will, “…coordinate Federal efforts in response to recent advances regarding how to prevent and treat HIV infection. The Initiative will support further integration of HIV prevention and care efforts; promote expansion of successful HIV testing and service delivery models; encourage innovative approaches to addressing barriers to accessing testing and treatment; and ensure that Federal resources are appropriately focused on implementing evidence-based interventions that improve outcomes along the HIV care continuum.”