HIV Community urges Obama, congress to create PEPFAR Program for US
U.S. Conference on AIDS demands commitment to treatment access for Americans
In his speech to the 2011 U.S. Conference on AIDS today, Dr. Julio Montaner of the British Columbia Center for Excellence on HIV/AIDS explained the science surrounding treatment as prevention, which has proven that increasing access to treatment, combined with supportive services and counseling has a direct and proportional relationship to reductions in new infections. Dr. Montaner respectfully called on President Obama to create a "second PEPFAR for the Americas," stating that it is unacceptable that the U.S. can provide medications to the rest of the World, but cannot ensure access to treatment for its own citizens.
"We know for a fact now that treatment is also prevention," said National Minority AIDS Council Deputy Executive Director Daniel C. Montoya. "Providing treatment and counseling services to people living with HIV and AIDS not only improves the health outcomes for those individuals, but it also reduces the risk of that person transmitting the virus to his or her partner by 96 percent. Given this indisputable fact, there is no excuse for not providing universal health care, including access to quality treatment and supportive services for all those living with HIV and AIDS in America."
"President Obama's administration has demonstrated an admirable commitment to fighting this epidemic through the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Affordable Care Act, but there is more to be done" continued Montoya. "Only 19 percent of people living with HIV in the U.S. are on treatment and have viral loads that are undetectable. Hundreds of thousands more have limited or no access to care, while even more aren't even aware that they are infected. Despite the tough fiscal climate in which our government finds itself, working to provide access to care is no longer simply a moral imperative, it is essential if we are to truly end this epidemic. We stand with this administration in its efforts to fight this terrible disease, but urge those at all levels of government to rise to the occasion in which our movement finds itself and make the dream of an AIDS-free generation a reality."
The U.S. Conference on AIDS is hosted each year by the National Minority AIDS Council. In 2011, NMAC brought the conference to Chicago from November 10-13. Dr. Julio Montaner's remarks were made at the conference's closing plenary.
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) represents a coalition of 3,000 faith based and community based organizations as well as AIDS service organizations advocating and delivering HIV/AIDS services in communities of color nationwide. Since 1987, NMAC has developed leadership in communities of color through a variety of advocacy campaigns, public policy education programs, national conferences, research programs, capacity building, technical assistance and trainings, and digital and electronic resource materials. For more information visit www.nmac.org .