Magazine Calls on Next President To Develop National HIV/AIDS Plan
Whichever candidate wins the U.S. presidential election should develop a national HIV/AIDS strategy, POZ magazine editor-in-chief Regan Hofmann said recently, VOA News reports. According to POZ, more than one million people in the U.S. are HIV-positive, and 14,000 people died from AIDS-related causes in 2006. In addition, about 25% of people in the U.S. who are living with HIV are unaware of their status, VOA News reports. According to Hofmann, the next president should "acknowledge" that there is an HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. and put "forward a plan immediately to deal with it. The funding is not commensurate with the need in the United States." She added that several state and federal HIV/AIDS programs have seen budget cuts in recent years.
"For the entire epidemic to date, now almost 28 years, we've had sort of a combination of small grassroots work being done and then large-scale projects and initiatives, but there hasn't been the coordination that is needed to make sure that all of the people who are living with HIV can access care and treatment," Hofmann said, adding, "AIDS is not going away in America. It's a preventable disease. So, something's broken here because we know how to stop the disease. We can prevent the transmission of HIV and yet we're not. We know how to keep people alive and yet people are still dying of AIDS in America."
POZ put forth seven steps to address HIV/AIDS in the U.S., such as addressing stigma and discrimination, as well as identifying "evidence-based prevention tactics that work and tailor[ing] them to individual audiences." Hofmann also said that the blame and condemnation associated with HIV/AIDS should end. "This is a retrovirus," she said, adding, "It's nothing more and nothing less, but we have to change the way that people think about AIDS so that people aren't afraid to get tested. They aren't afraid to go and get care. People who have HIV didn't do anything bad. And yet society, and even those living with the disease, sometimes think otherwise."
According to Hofmann, many young people who were born after the initial fears surrounding HIV/AIDS are not aware of prevention measures and therefore are engaging in risky sexual behavior. She added that more funding should be devoted to developing a vaccine or cure for HIV/AIDS because of the rising costs of treatment and prevention. "This has become a global economic crisis," Hofmann said, adding, "It's been a humanitarian crisis for a long, long time. ... We're looking at how in the world the world is going to be able to pay for all of these people. So, there's absolutely incentive, I think, to look for the answer to this disease. We can't bear the cost of AIDS" (De Capua, VOA News, 11/3).
The related POZ article is available online.