KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

After Releasing New HIV Strategy, Obama Says Efforts Against The Disease Require ‘More Than Just Fighting The Virus’


HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Assistant Secretary Dr. Howard Koh, White House AIDS Policy Director Jeffrey Crowley and domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes at the briefing on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Tuesday in Washington. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Associated Press: "President Barack Obama said Tuesday a new strategy for combating HIV and AIDS fulfills America's obligation to stopping the spread of the virus and rooting out the inequities and attitudes on which it thrives. The strategy sets a goal of reducing new infections by 25 percent over the next five years; getting treatment for 85 percent of patients within three months of their diagnosis; and increasing education about the virus, even in communities with low rates of infection. 'Fighting HIV/AIDS in America and around the world will require more than just fighting the virus,' Obama said at a White House reception honoring the work of those in the HIV and AIDS community. 'It will require a broader effort to make life more just and equitable'"(Pace, 7/14).

The Washington Post: "Noting that the number of new infections in the United States has been static -- and that the number of people living with HIV is growing -- the new policy would direct more resources toward African Americans and gay and bisexual men. Latinos and substance abusers should also be a priority, the report says. … The new HIV/AIDS policy has been summarized in a 60-page report that credits the Bush administration for its efforts to address the disease but also laments the country's general lack of concern" (Kornblut, 7/14).

USA Today: "By 2015, the White House seeks to: Reduce new HIV infections by 25%; Cut the rate of the virus' spread by 30%, from five people a year infected by every 100 living with HIV to 3.5 per 100; Increase from 79% to 90% the percentage of HIV-positive people who know they're infected with the virus so they can get treatment" (Sternberg, 7/13).

Reuters: In his remarks, Obama said, "'We need to make sure all our efforts are coordinated within the federal government and across state and local governments.' The plan directs government agencies to work together more closely to focus spending where it is most needed and identify where new spending would do the most good. ... Julie Scofield, executive director of the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors, said she would welcome better coordination on the federal level. 'Right now state health departments and community-based organizations really have so many disparate requirements and rules and reporting that it really ties them up in knots more than it should,' Scofield said" (Colvin and Fox, 7/14).

CNN: "Federal officials are also seeking to combat a growing sense of complacency about the disease, partly by reducing the percentage of infected Americans who are unaware of their status. ... The White House's goal, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is to make new infections rare while ensuring that those who are infected have an 'unfettered access to high quality life-extending care free from stigma and discrimination. ...'"

"One leading HIV/AIDS activist, however, was sharply critical of the administration's strategy. Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, told CNN in an interview that 'when you see what this administration has done on AIDS, you have to give them very low grades.' Obama has 'consistently underfunded AIDS' programs, Weinstein said" (Silverleib and Uliano, 7/14). 

Kaiser Health News posted the president's introductory letter, the full National HIV/AIDS strategy and the Implementation Plan (7/13).

The Los Angeles Times: "Obama's strategy includes broad goals as well as dozens of directives for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and other federal agencies. Those steps include developing standards to evaluate care, investigating community programs to see whether they're effective and simplifying grant applications. The Bureau of Prisons would expand HIV screening of inmates, and the Justice Department would fast-track investigations of discrimination involving those with HIV. … David Munar, vice president of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, praised it as a potentially 'seminal moment' in the country's efforts to combat HIV/AIDS" (Levey, 7/13). 

The Washington Times: "But some groups dedicated to fighting the epidemic were critical of the fact it took officials a year and a half to come up with a plan. One such group, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, hit Mr. Obama for what they described as a 'laggard approach' on the issue" (Rowland, 7/13).

NPR's "The Two Way" blog: "Charles King, president and chief executive officer of Housing Works which tries to ameliorate the problem of AIDS and homelessness, was disappointed. ... 'Unless [President Obama] commits significant new resources intended to make major inroads against the spread of HIV, he will be regarded as a leader who did next to nothing about the most devastating epidemic of our time.' [King said in a written statement]" (James, 7/13).

And, in earlier coverage, KHN reported: The HHS announcement comes "as state programs that provide AIDS drugs to patients with HIV grapple with growing waiting lists for the drugs. More than 2,000 patients are on the waiting lists. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced July 8 that she will provide $25 million to states to help pay for the drug treatments, which average more than $12,000 a year. Even so, some advocacy groups said the aid 'falls short' of the need. … The administration's announcement also corresponds with the 2010 International AIDS Conference" in Vienna, Austria (Steadman, 7/13).

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