U.S. government officials have formally unveiled the country's first national strategy for fighting HIV/AIDS within its borders. Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Council Director; Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy; and Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, spoke at a White House briefing on July 13 and took questions from journalists and HIV/AIDS community members in the briefing room.
Later in the day, President Barack Obama gave a brief speech about the strategy in front of a group of HIV/AIDS community members at the White House. (Read the transcript.)
(The man you hear calling out at around 7:43 in the video is apparently Housing Works President and CEO Charles King. Housing Works later issued a statement explaining King's outburst and offering King's summary of a conversation he had with Obama following the speech.)
The newly released national HIV/AIDS strategy documents are available as PDFs:
Download the National HIV/AIDS Strategy
Download the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Implementation Plan
Download the President's Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Agencies and Departments
In addition to our "Word on the Street" feedback, we're collecting official statements from HIV/AIDS organizations and community leaders, which we'll excerpt and link below.
Nancy Bernstine (Executive Director, National AIDS Housing Coalition [NAHC]): "Housing is essential to the ability of people with HIV/AIDS to enter into and remain in care and to preventing the spread of the virus. PWAs and AIDS housing and healthcare providers are guardedly optimistic that the NHAS not only acknowledges this critical need but offers solutions for identifying and expanding housing options and ending homelessness and housing instability for folks coping with the debilitating and impoverishing affects of HIV/AIDS." (Read the entire statement issued by NAHC.)
Kevin Carmichael, M.D. (Co-Chair, Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition): "For the sake of our patients, we hope adequate resources are dedicated to help achieve this important new initiative's goals, and welcome opportunities to support a robust implementation plan that ultimately will determine its success." (Read Carmichael's full statement.)
Paul Kawata (Executive Director, National Minority AIDS Council): "[W]ithout the funds to carry out the President's ambitious agenda, this falls significantly short of a strategy. The blueprint is most certainly there ... but now our collective attention must shift to resources." (Read Kawata's full statement, or read a sign-on letter sent by Kawata to Obama in response to the release of the strategy.)
Charles King (President/CEO, Housing Works): "The president's plan is so flawed that it might actually represent a step backwards in combating HIV and AIDS in the United States. ... The president's plan sets insufficiently ambitious goals for reducing the number of annual HIV infections in the U.S. while, at the same time, the plan fails to provide adequate funding to reach even the modest HIV prevention and treatment goals that it sets out." (Read King's full statement.)
Michael Saag, M.D. (Chair, HIV Medicine Association): "The HIV Medicine Association applauds the Obama administration's release of a National HIV/AIDS Strategy that signals a strengthened national commitment to real and sustained success in the battle against HIV/AIDS." (Read Saag's full statement.)
Carole Treston (Executive Director, AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families): "The hardest and most important part of the strategy will be implementation. The urgent need for coordinating efforts and identifying and committing the resources to make this plan a reality will be a challenge, especially as a sense of urgency about HIV/AIDS has waned in our country. AIDS Alliance is committed to supporting the implementation of this plan and we will redouble our efforts to make sure that issues surrounding youth are addressed during the implementation process -- a facet of the plan that seems to be lacking." (Read the full statement issued by AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families.)
Dana Van Gorder (Executive Director, Project Inform): "We are pleased to see that the Strategy sets ambitious and achievable targets for reducing the impact of HIV on the nation, and that key concepts behind TLC+ have been substantially incorporated into the Strategy." (Read the full statement issued by Project Inform.)
Phill Wilson (President/CEO, Black AIDS Institute): "The new strategy provides a promising opportunity for us to get real about the shortcomings in our national response to the epidemic. ... Unfortunately, the new strategy does not sufficiently address the issue of resources." (Read Wilson's full statement.)
José M. Zuniga (President, International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care): "[T]he National HIV/AIDS Strategy, if implemented at an accelerated pace, is an effective prescription against a disease that has been allowed to run rampant from coast to coast for the past decade." (Read Zuniga's full statement.)
This article was initially written on July 14, 2010. It has since been updated with new material.