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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/14/10

New York Observer: The Epidemic Continues

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But to be more than a concept, this requires money--not just city and state, but federal money--when all are in short supply. This is Mr. Obama's challenge.

It's a tough sell when the entire federal health bill's budget is being criticized by the right. The city already receives the most federal AIDS support money in the nation--including $40 million a year in Ryan White funding, according to the Community Health Preventive Institute.

But to stop AIDS at its "epicenter," the city needs help--in the hundreds of millions of dollars range, which can be a combination of federal, state, local and private-sector money.

Eight years ago, Sandy Thurman, the former AIDS czar in the Clinton White House, said, "The sobering truth is that this pandemic is far from over--in fact, it has just begun to unfold." If only she hadn't been so right. Thirty-three million people are now living with H.I.V. worldwide. Africa buries 4,400 killed by the disease every day.

Bill Clinton turned up the federal response to the H.I.V./AIDS epidemic, creating the country's AIDS czar and the National Task Force on AIDS Drug Development, increasing funding and opposing AIDS-related discrimination. Through his post-presidential foundation, the Clinton H.I.V./AIDS initiative has provided medication to more than two million people living with the disease and reduced AIDS drug costs by an incredible 90 percent for children in the developing world.

This year, one million people around the world won't receive treatment for AIDS, and 2.9 million H.I.V.-positive women won't receive services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease. We've cut polio by 99 percent throughout the world, and we can do the same with AIDS.

The administration must keep Mr. Obama's repeated promise to fully fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS--the administration did not request the $2.7 billion in funding for the Global Fund from Congress as the U.S. share of the support agreed to by the G-8. We must not forget the home front.

Weakening the fight against the H.I.V./AIDS pandemic is not trimming fat; it's putting our country--and our world--at risk. Healthy markets depend on a healthy populace.

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Robert Weiner, NATIONAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ISSUES STRATEGIST Bob Weiner, a national issues and public affairs strategist, has been spokesman for and directed the public affairs offices of White House Drug Czar and Four Star General Barry (more...)
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