About 250 HIV/AIDS Advocates Gather at National Meeting To Criticize New CDC HIV Prevention Policy
About 250 HIV/AIDS advocates on Tuesday gathered following sessions of the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta to criticize the CDC's new HIV prevention policy, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports (Yee, AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/30). Dr. Robert Janssen, director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, in April said that the government will invest most heavily in initiatives that focus on identifying people who are already HIV-positive, which could jeopardize approximately $90 million in annual federal funding for community groups. Janssen said that the changes could be in effect by July 2004. The CDC has said that the current emphasis on community outreach prevention programs has proven ineffective, citing an increase in the number of new HIV cases (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/28). Unlike previous years, the CDC did not seek the input of HIV/AIDS groups in creating the new initiative, advocates said. In addition, some advocates are concerned that the new strategy could result in a loss of funding for current programs -- such as counseling and risk-reduction programs, including condom distribution and outreach programs -- in order to cover the costs of the new efforts, the AP/Newsday reports. David Harvey, executive director of the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families, said, "It would be a mistake to focus exclusively on HIV-positive people." CDC officials said the new policy is necessary because HIV prevention efforts have "stalled" and the number of new HIV infections has leveled off in recent years, as opposed to decreasing, the AP/Newsday reports. Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, said, "We wouldn't want all of our efforts targeted on the general population because that would not result in an effective program" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/30).
In a kaisernetwork.org interview, Dr. Harold Jaffe, director of NCHSTP, said that "even though we've been at this plateau for a while ... that's not really good enough. We've got to rethink a lot of our prevention strategies, and we need to target better if we're going to reduce the number of AIDS cases." The interview, along with webcasts of select sessions of the conference, are available online.
NPR's "Talk of the Nation" yesterday included an interview with Jaffe about the CDC data showing an increase in HIV among men who have sex with men (Conan, "Talk of the Nation," NPR, 7/29). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.