I think its fair to say that President Bush and members of Congress don't really give a damn about preventing HIV infections. How else would you explain six consecutive years of cuts to federal funding for HIV prevention programs?
What's even more mind-boggling is that these funding cuts are occurring even as funds for politically motivated and ineffective abstinence-only programs are being increased.
On top of that, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is sitting on research data that shows the number of HIV infections in the U.S. is 35%-50% higher than previously estimated. Conveniently enough for advocates of HIV prevention funding cuts, the CDC is not expected to release this data until mid-year. That is, after Congress has considered President Bush's proposed budget.
As Joseph Interrante of Nashville Cares said in an opinion piece on HIV funding cuts on Tennessean.com
The data are an indictment of failed federal public-health policy. The CDC's own 2001 HIV Prevention Plan, which set a goal of reducing annual infections by 50 percent to a level of 20,000 per year by 2005, quietly expired without any success. More than a decade of flat funding — that was inadequate from the start — is only part of the problem. A failure to invest those scarce resources in proven interventions such as needle exchange and comprehensive sexuality education, as opposed to the scientifically discounted strategy of "abstinence-only" programs, is also to blame. HIV prevention educators could have told you: You reap what you sow (or in this case, fail to sow).
This makes it all the more important that we elect as our next president someone who has a national aids strategy that covers prevention, research and treatment.
More than 100 organizations have joined together to demand that each of the presidential candidates develop comprehensive strategies for ending the epidemic in the United States. So far, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson have issued plans.
The primary season has begun and each of the candidates is trying to get an edge among voters. Now is the time for LGBT Americans to demand that HIV/AIDS become an election issue.