Obama pledges additional $50 million to fight AIDS

President Barack Obama announced an additional $50 million will go toward treatment and medical facilities across the United States over the next two years to help combat AIDS. He also pledged a new target of securing treatment for 6 million people with HIV by 2013, and urged other countries to step up the global fight against HIV and AIDS.

In remarks at a World AIDS Day event in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, Obama said the treatment goal would cover 2 million more people than originally proposed.

“We are going to win this fight,” Obama said. “But the fight’s not over, not by a long shot.”

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also spoke at the event via satellite.

“I understand we’re in tight budget times … I believe we are required to support effective programs that save lives,” Bush said.

Obama cited the high rate of infection among gay men, especially gay men of color, and the difficulty many people face finding adequate medical care. He plans to use programs through the Department of Health and Human Services to help the 1.2 million people living in the U.S. with HIV. The funding will not require any congressional approval or action.

“At a time when so much in Washington divides us, the fight against this disease has united us across parties and presidencies,” Obama said. “It has shown that we can do big things when Republicans and Democrats put their common humanity before politics.”

The Utah Department of Health estimates approximately 20 percent of Utahns who have been diagnosed with HIV are not participating in a medical-treatment program. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost 75 percent of Americans with HIV are not receiving enough medicine or regular health care “to stay healthy or prevent themselves from transmitting the virus to others.” Of the 1.2 million people with HIV, 850,000 aren’t receiving regular treatment to keep the virus at a low enough level to prevent transmission or harm their own health. About 240,000 Americans are not aware they’re infected with HIV.

As part of its global initiative, the U.S. set a goal of providing treatment to 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women and funding 4.7 million voluntary male circumcisions in Africa.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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