ONAP Director, Bush Administration’s AIDS Policies ‘Booed’ at United States Conference on AIDS in Anaheim, Calif.
Attendees of the United States Conference on AIDS in Anaheim, Calif., on Thursday "booed and jeered" Office of National AIDS Policy Director Dr. Joseph O'Neill, who spoke about the Bush administration's support of abstinence-only education programs and opposition to federally funded needle-exchange programs, the Orange County Register reports. California AIDS activists called Bush's AIDS-prevention policies "short-sighted and potentially dangerous," but O'Neill said that the administration was trying to "bring more voices to the table" to fight HIV/AIDS in the United States. "Abstinence is one of those voices," O'Neill said, adding that the United States "ha[s] not made a dent in the annual number of new infections in years," and therefore "cannot afford to close our ears to any ideas." But Dan Gleason, executive director of AIDS Service Foundation Orange County, said that programs "heavy in abstinence education" do not ensure that young people use protection if and when they do become sexually active, adding that the Bush administration's policies do not "take good solid health education into account." O'Neill received the "biggest jeers" when he discussed the administration's lack of support for federally funded needle-exchange programs as a way to prevent HIV transmission through shared needles, the Register reports (Saar, Orange County Register, 9/20).
Targeting Minorities and Seeking a 'Community-Based Response'
HIV/AIDS activists and treatment specialists gathered at the National Minority AIDS Council-sponsored conference, which began on Thursday and concluded yesterday, to "enhance the strength of the community-based response" to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, according to an NMAC release. The sixth annual conference, titled "Finding Our Voice," occurred after a two-year hiatus. Last year, the conference was cancelled because of the Sept. 11 attacks, which happened two days before its scheduled opening in Miami Beach, Fla. This year's conference sought to draw attention to the spread of HIV/AIDS among minorities. Dr. Wan Yanhai, the Chinese AIDS activist who was released on Friday by Chinese officials after a four-week detainment, had been scheduled to speak at the conference, but his wife, Su Zhaosheng, spoke in his absence. Dr. Jack Chow, deputy assistant secretary of state for health and science; Dr. Diana Bonta, director of the California Department of Health Services; David Vos, director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of HIV/AIDS Housing; and Dr. Deborah Parham, director of the Health Resources and Services Administration's HIV/AIDS Bureau, were scheduled to speak at the conference. Actress Rosie Perez, singer/actress Jennifer Holliday and singer Oleta Adams also were scheduled to attend the conference (NMAC release, 9/16). Conference organizers anticipated 3,500 people would participate in the conference (NMAC Web site, 9/22).