For Immediate Release
World AIDS Day: President Obama Earns a ‘D+’ in Fighting Global AIDS; Organizations Call for Urgent Course Correction
WASHINGTON - On the eve of World AIDS Day, global AIDS and Africa solidarity organizations released a report card today evaluating President Obama's first year in office-giving the President and his Administration a ‘D+' for work so far. Advocates also called the White House's World AIDS Day announcement that the U.S. will host the 2012 International AIDS Conference, due to the lifting of the U.S. ban on travel and immigration of people with HIV, "superficial" when contrasted with the AIDS promises the Administration is breaking.
"With new data showing that worldwide the number one killer of women of reproductive age is HIV, aggressive scale up of AIDS treatment is needed more than ever for the health of communities," said Asia Russell, Health GAP Director of International Policy. "We are disappointed to report that on his first World AIDS Day in office, President Obama has not made good on his promises to increase funding for effective, life saving programs to fight AIDS around the world."
The report, released by Health GAP, Africa Action, Treatment Action Group and Global AIDS Alliance states: "This report card gives President Obama a ‘D+' for his first year as president. This assessment contrasts his one-year record to the promises he made to get elected, and takes into account the areas where some progress has been made, particularly on HIV prevention and support for integration of reproductive health and HIV prevention and treatment. It also takes into account pre-existing broad bipartisan support established during the Bush Administration for increased U.S. investment to fight AIDS. But one year is early in any Administration; President Obama still has the potential to carry forward a bold agenda on global AIDS. President Obama could earn an ‘A' if he seizes this opportunity and if he crafts a budget request for FY2011 that puts U.S. investments in global AIDS back on track-and includes prominent support for a bold HIV treatment target to be achieved by 2013. There is urgent need for course correction by U.S. leadership in fight against AIDS." The analysis was based on four leadership areas: funding levels, treatment scale-up, effective prevention, and linkage between AIDS and other global health programs.
The biggest gap in the report card came in the area of funding: "Despite repeated public commitments to expand funding for successful global AIDS programs, the first budget request to Congress prepared by President Obama, for FY2010, would for the first time essentially flat-fund U.S. global AIDS investments-it will not even keep pace with global medical inflation, estimated at 4-10% this year," the report found.
With scale up from the last Bush administration budget, FY 2009, to be reported this week advocates expect the U.S. to approach 3 million people supported on treatment-a huge accomplishment. But advocates warned that without new funding, President Obama's promise to double this number of people on treatment would be impossible. On prevention the report hailed positive statements and guidance from the Obama administration toward evidence-based programming and integration with family planning, though it found shifts often had yet to translate into concrete policy. President Obama's promise to end the administrative policy against needle exchange funding has not been fulfilled.