In his first 100 days the new President could make a significant impact to reaching universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010, and help prevent over 5,000 people dying every day from AIDS.
We urge President Obama to:
1. Lift the Global Gag Rule
This would allow greater access to HIV prevention services around the world and save countless lives. The Rule currently forbids HIV prevention being integrated with family planning services on US-funded projects. Evidence shows that abstinence-only programming does not work.
2. Finance HIV prevention work with hard to reach groups
These groups include sex workers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men. They suffer from a higher risk of HIV transmission but because of stigma and prejudice often find themselves marginalised and unable to access HIV services. Funding for HIV testing and counselling is urgently needed, along with better access to condoms and care.
3. Support harm reduction programming for injecting drug users
Revise the current guidelines to allow funding for needle exchanges. In many countries, including China and Russia, injecting drug use is the primary driver of HIV and AIDS. Scaling up needle exchange is an essential component to halting the epidemic.
Last week the Alliance took the opportunity to outline these and other recommendations at a briefing on the impact of US HIV policies for MPs and representatives from the House of Lords organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on AIDS.
The UK government has played a leading international role in supporting evidence based HIV prevention and treatment for the marginalised and most at risk groups.
Kerry McCarthy, MP and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the UK Secretary of State for international development, who chaired the event said, “Barrack Obama has already shown an important interest in HIV and AIDS. The UK Department for International Development is looking forward to working with him on these issues.”
Carol Bergman, Acting Executive Director of the Washington DC based Global AIDS Alliance who previously worked with President Clinton’s transition team urged the UK and international partners to engage with the new US administration to share experience of what works in HIV prevention.