'These grades are not simply letters in the alphabet they are emblems of our government's failure to respond to one of the most devastating health crises in history,' said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON - The U.S. response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic was given poor grades today in the Human Rights Campaign's second annual World AIDS Day report card. The report card rates the U.S. government's response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in four key areas: prevention, care and treatment, research and global AIDS.
"These grades are not simply letters in the alphabet they are emblems of our government's failure to respond to one of the most devastating national and global health crises in history," said Joe Solmonese, HRC president. "Every hour, two young Americans become infected with HIV and the government's irresponsible response is to cut funding and abandon science. The Bush administration and congressional leadership's response to this disease has been abysmal."
HRC issued its first World AIDS Day report card in 2004. Since then, grades have declined even further. 2004 grades were: Prevention (F) Care and Treatment (D) Research (C) and Global Aids (C).
"We need a coordinated and comprehensive approach to fight HIV and AIDS," said Solmonese. "Many leaders have courageously and diligently championed HIV/AIDS issues and this report card does nothing to take away from the good work they are doing. This assessment reminds us all that much critical work remains to be done. We cannot idly sit by and watch as treatment goes under-funded prevention efforts deny people at risk the unvarnished truth about how protect themselves. Ideology should never drive our response to HIV and AIDS."
As AIDS ravages minority communities, government programs are failing to adequately respond to the epidemic among vulnerable populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 46 percent of African-American men who have sex with men in five major U.S. cities are HIV-positive and almost two-thirds of those infected do not know their status. Infections among gay and bisexual men rose 8 percent and still comprise the largest percentage of new HIV cases.
Care and Treatment: F
This year has seen significant cuts to federal HIV/AIDS treatment and care programs. After consistently flat-funding most of the Ryan White CARE Act for five years and passing billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, a CDC study determined that 211,000 Americans are not receiving antiretroviral treatments they need.
The most recent version of the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill contained a less than 1 percent increase to the National Institute of Health, the smallest percentage increase since 1970.
Global AIDS: C
The highest mark on the report card goes to Global AIDS as Congress passed and the president signed the Assistance for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act this year. However, this year the United States will not fully meet its funding commitment to the Global Fund and the U.S. government has mandated that at least one-third of contributions to international programs must be devoted to abstinence-only programs that are seriously flawed and leave little control to local experts.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
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