PACHA Letter to President Bush Calls for ‘Immediate’ Strategy to Decrease New HIV Infections in U.S.
The Bush administration should develop a strategy to "markedly decrease" new HIV infections in the United States and appropriate additional funding for domestic and international AIDS programs, the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS wrote in a May 1 letter to President Bush, the Washington Times reports. In the letter, PACHA states that "a sense of urgency seems lacking" in the Bush administration's efforts to address HIV/AIDS. To reinvigorate those efforts, the Bush administration should "immediately" develop a "plan with a timeline for eradication of the epidemic," the letter states. PACHA also said it supports a funding increase for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and international anti-AIDS efforts (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 5/19). The council also recommended that the administration modify Medicaid 1115 waivers for state Medicaid programs to allow more people with HIV to access antiretroviral drugs through state ADAP programs (Letter text, 5/1).
The panel also said that it should "revisit current [anti-AIDS] strategies to determine if they are ... still the most effective methods of prevention education" (Washington Times, 5/19). In a recent interview with The Advocate, PACHA Co-Chair Tom Coburn said that he would like to change the current emphasis of HIV education from condom usage to abstinence. "I do believe in condoms for HIV prevention. But I also believe in informed consent about the effectiveness of condoms. Ask any expert you want, and they will tell you that condoms are not always effective, and people have a right to know this," Coburn said. As a member of Congress, Coburn supported placing warning labels on condom packages stating that condoms are not effective in preventing the transmission of certain sexually transmitted diseases. Coburn said he would like to see anti-AIDS efforts emphasize abstinence and monogamy, as well as the "ethical obligation" of HIV-positive individuals to prevent transmission of the virus to others. "Unless both partners are positive and have the same strain of the virus, I don't think that anyone with HIV should be doing anything to put anyone else at risk," Coburn said (Bull, The Advocate, 5/28).