The National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Turning Point or More of the Same? It’s Our Choice!

By Rob Banaszak on July 13, 2011 in National HIV/AIDS Strategy

vignetta charlesby Vignetta Charles, Ph.D.,
Vice President of Programs & Evaluation

The launch of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy one year ago marked an historic opportunity and potential turning point for the epidemic in the United States.  For the first time, a U.S. President and his administration demonstrated a serious commitment to ending HIV/AIDS in the United States by bringing together government officials and HIV/AIDS community leaders to develop a clear, focused and achievable plan to reduce new infections and to ensure those living with and affected by HIV have access to life-saving prevention and care services. And we – the HIV community, the private sector, and public and private philanthropies have a key role to play in helping the federal government, with bi-partisan support, ensure its successful implementation.

AIDS United has taken this responsibility seriously.  In the year since the NHAS release, we have been at the forefront of cultivating significant public and private investments for our Access to Care (A2C) programs, which advance real-time implementation of the NHAS goal of Increasing Access to Care and Improving Health Outcomes for People Living with HIV.

Thanks to the millions of dollars invested by Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Social Innovation Fund (SIF)MAC AIDS Fund, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Ford Foundation, ViiV Healthcare,  Chevron, Walmart Foundation, Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS, and Walgreens, AIDS United is able to support community-driven programs across the country that  help thousands of people living with living with HIV/AIDS from our country’s most vulnerable populations access  life-saving care and support services.  These investments represent the largest public and private collaboration to date to move the National HIV/AIDS Strategy forward.

Unfortunately, while we forge ahead building private sector support for community-based HIV/AIDS programs, Congressional battles over the federal debt threaten to severely cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid, and other federally-funded services that significantly impact people living with HIV/AIDS.  AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) across the country continue to face funding crises, forcing waiting lists that total nearly 9,000 and counting.  Clearly we have to advocate for and protect these programs, and the people they serve.

And while we fight to protect and save federally-funded programs that help people living with HIV/AIDS, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy serves as a game-changing blueprint for helping to end HIV/AIDS in America.  The goals and outcomes of the NHAS are now ours to support, in the face of whatever is happening in the halls of Washington. We must continue to build partnerships that leverage new investments that are disbursed to the communities and populations in our country most affected by the epidemic. We must continue to advocate for sound HIV/AIDS policy that supports the implementation rather than slows, or worse, halts it.  We must continue working together – the HIV community and the private and philanthropic sectors – to fund and implement  innovative solutions that improve health outcomes and make achievable the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Without these essential partnerships, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy will remain only that – a strategy – and it will fail to be the historic turning point in the epidemic which will lead us to the  ultimate vision  – the end of the AIDS epidemic in America.

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