Ending the AIDS epidemic might sound a little preposterous, but the timing and political context of this campaign are what give it legs: Last summer the HPTN 052 study (published in the New England Journal in July) showed that antiretrovirals reduce transmission of HIV by 96%, yet right now in the US there are more than half a million people who know they are HIV+ and can't access consistent care, 10,000 of who are on official AIDS Drug Assistance Plan waiting lists. Globally, things are worse with 30 million people currently living with HIV and over 9 million people with HIV have no access to treatment.
Experts at UNAIDS report that investing in treatment now to cover an additional 6 million patients will avert more than 12 million new HIV infections by 2020 and the drop in the rate of new infections even quicker. This will lead to cost savings within only 4 years. We always new AIDS treatment saves lives but now we have the evidence that investing in treatment now will save lives, prevents infections, and decrease costs in the long term... but only if we invest in treatment now.
As it happens, this exciting scientific evidence is occurring during a period of funding shortfalls and increasing wait lists for medications. So far Obama has failed his promise to invest in AIDS and during an election year now is the perfect time to call on him to fulfill his commitment. This coming year is not only election year but for the first time the Washington DC will be hosting the International AIDS Conference (IAC) in July bringing tens of thousands of HIV advocates, policy-makers, and researchers in one place. That's why the consensus is that even amid a tough budget environment, this is actually an opportune moment for substantive policy change.
This week, Hilary Clinton spoke about our country's national AIDS strategy. Her commitments were lacking as expected, thus this is a perfect opportunity to submit letters to the editor and opinion pieces encouraging Obama to step up his commitment…and we even have a timeline. Obama will speak on HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day which is December 1st, and we need to put the public pressure on to support him in asking Congress for full funding. This is no longer about funding health - this is about ending an epidemic.
Get started by filling out the template letter to the editor below.
Step 1 - Select a Recipient
Choose the major newspaper in your hometown or city which you attend school.