Obama Hit for Not Showing at AIDS Event; Activists March to Demand More Research, Funds

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Obama Hit for Not Showing at AIDS Event; Activists March to Demand More Research, Funds


Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

After two days of upbeat speeches about an end to AIDS, impatient activists took to the microphones and streets Tuesday to protest the sluggish pace of research, persistent barriers to care and funding, and President Obama's decision not to appear in person at the weeklong AIDS 2012 conference.

There's no substitute for the leadership of the president of the United States, Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a global organization that is also the largest HIV/AIDS medical provider in the United States, told a press conference.

The president has shown he can visit virtually every podunk town in Ohio, but he can't come to a meeting of 25,000 AIDS activists. That's very disappointing.

Earlier in the day, thousands of protesters - many from groups with their own agendas - marched through Washington to the White House to call for an end to the AIDS pandemic.

We demand the political will necessary to ensure economic justice for all and to defend and protect the human rights of our marginalized communities, including people living with HIV & AIDS, said organizers of We Can End AIDS.

One idea is to establish a tiny tax on Wall Street financial transactions, also known as a Robin Hood tax, said Jennifer Flynn.

Another approach is to end the ban on needle-exchange programs.

Research shows these programs save lives and get people off the streets and into treatment, but the federal government has a blind spot when it comes to funding them, said Allan Clear, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition. The AIDS conference has a lot of rhetoric about treatment as prevention, he said, but what about prevention as prevention?

The 19th International AIDS Conference continued with its packed agenda of plenary sessions, press conferences and hundreds of presentations of research, poster sessions and exhibits.

In a short period of time, we have demonstrated progress on the three goals of the White House's 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy, Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary of health for the Health and Human Services Department, said in a plenary session. …

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