A&U Magazine Profiles House Minority Leader Gephardt’s Views on HIV/AIDS
The November issue of A&U magazine features a cover story on House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and his views on the future of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Gephardt, who will step down as minority leader in January, said he feels it is the responsibility of the government as a leadership entity to guide the war against HIV/AIDS and set policy for fighting the disease. Gephardt has co-sponsored legislation to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income individuals who are HIV-positive but who have not yet developed AIDS, and he also supports federal funding for needle-exchange programs. Gephardt also favors allocating more funding to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS program and other domestic prevention, treatment, research and assistance programs. A return to large-scale public HIV prevention campaigns is particularly important in a time when Americans have become "lax" about the epidemic, Gephardt said, adding, "We have gone backward on prevention and information programs. We don't spend enough today and we have seen a resurgence of AIDS ... (and) it seems to be that we have lost progress, lost ground on the prevention front and we still don't have a vaccine, we don't have a complete medical answer and it seems to me we need to keep pressing through the research and information efforts to find the answers."
International Efforts and the Public
Gephardt advocates increasing the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other international HIV/AIDS programs. The United States should commit at least $2 billion annually to international HIV/AIDS efforts, but its contribution is currently only about half of this amount, Gephardt said. "We need to commit that money and do many other things to be where we need to be in terms of a global commitment. Anything less is immoral," he stated. Gephardt said that the public can become actively involved in motivating political leaders to act on HIV/AIDS issues. He stated that people should lobby for more public information campaigns, ask their congressional representatives to allocate additional HIV/AIDS funding and identify and support lawmakers who are "leaders" on HIV/AIDS issues (Plant, A&U, November 2002).