Playing Defense and Offense

By Rob Banaszak on April 13, 2011 in President's Message

by Mark Ishaug, President and CEO
AIDS United

Can you walk a tightrope while preparing for the fight of your life? Sometimes you simply have no choice. In just the last month, AIDS United has had to become even more politically agile while making ourselves programmatically stronger. While the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to rage on in our country, impacting our nation’s most vulnerable communities, we are working in overdrive to prevent devastating budget cuts that would dismantle health care reform, eliminate signatures programs like AmeriCorps and the Social Innovation Fund, and reinstate the ban on federally-funded syringe exchange programs. And the budget talks for FY 2012 are only just beginning to heat up.

Hundreds of millions of dollars for critical domestic HIV/AIDS programs are at risk at a time when we can afford no losses. More important, the lives of the people we serve are at risk. We must fight for the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We must step up our efforts to ensure the success of the National HIV/AIDS strategy. And we must develop new public-private partnerships that will help us reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and eliminate health disparities.

AIDS United is playing defense and offense, and maximizing all of our organizational strengths and skills to be the leanest, smartest and strongest asset we can be in the fight to end AIDS in America. We are adapting, changing, and honing every day.

  • At its first official meeting since becoming AIDS United, the Board of Trustees embarked on the development of a three-year strategic plan, which will align AIDS United’s goals with those of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
  • We unveiled a new Community Partnership model at the 2011 annual meeting, which will support community-based programs to (1) strengthen systems, (2) seed and measure innovation, and (3) organize and lead policy/advocacy efforts. We asked Community Partners to join with us in thinking even more creatively and strategically about how we might break down HIV/AIDS silos. We began to expand our ideas of how we can more effectively help the people we serve by focusing on the myriad of co-existing conditions that contribute to HIV’s transmission.
  • At the first Access to Care grantee convening, AIDS United mobilized grantees supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Walmart and the Social Innovation Fund, providing them with the educational and skills-building opportunities they need to advance successfully to the next phase of their respective projects. Grantees rolled up their sleeves for substantive, productive and sometimes difficult discussions about participant recruitment, evaluation, and fundraising.
  • AIDS United awarded $1.4 million dollars to 29 organizations to promote the development and expansion of local advocacy networks in nine Southern states – one of the regions in our country hardest hit by the epidemic.

So will we defend programs that work and save lives? Yes we will! Will we fight for new public and private resources for innovative, evidence-based projects? Absolutely! And will we succeed? We have no choice. And we can only do all this and more with you. So join us today! Donate to AIDS United, call your legislators, sign up for action alerts, friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. AIDS United, and people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, are counting on you.

Post a Comment

We'd love to hear what you think about this piece! Submit your comments below and join the discussion.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

< Back to the blog