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U.S. attempts to
weaken political declaration at U.N. AIDS meeting

U.S. attempts to
weaken political declaration at U.N. AIDS meeting

U.S. opposes setting time frames and target goals in global AIDS fight

The Open Society Institute, a group that promotes public policies that safeguard the rights of people worldwide, says that the Bush administration is attempting to weaken a political declaration on AIDS issues currently being formulated at a special three-day United Nations meeting focused on the disease. The institute says the U.S. delegation to the meeting is opposed to setting clear targets and time frames in stopping the spread of HIV, which removes the pressure on governments worldwide to move quickly to set up prevention and treatment programs.

AIDS advocates say part of the reason for the U.S. opposition to setting time frames and targets in fighting the disease is that it is failing to effectively combat its own domestic HIV epidemic. A recent report claims that half of the HIV-positive people in the United States who need antiretroviral treatment are not receiving it and that the number of new infections occurring each year in the country hasn't dropped in nearly a decade.

"The U.S. is in no position to preach to other countries on how to address the AIDS epidemic when it has much to answer for back home," said Chris Collins, author of the report published by the Public Health Watch HIV/AIDS Monitoring Project of the Open Society Institute, in a press statement. "There is no denying that the U.S. leads in funding for AIDS globally, but without its own national strategy that focuses on outcomes for prevention, treatment, and service delivery, the U.S. delegation needs to speak to how they're going to do better for Americans as they try to influence international policy."

The monitoring report shows that U.S. AIDS funding does not allow for comprehensive and sustained access to HIV care, that the country has failed to meet a 2005 HIV prevention target set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in cutting the number of annual new HIV infections, that only half of the nation's HIV-positive people receive consistent HIV care, and that the government has failed to address the disproportionate impact of HIV among communities of color, gay and bisexual men, injection-drug users, and the poor.

"The U.S. needs to help strengthen, not weaken the political declaration at the U.N. meeting on AIDS, and at home our government needs to launch a vigorous, federally managed effort to test, refine, and deliver innovative programming that improves outcomes for communities of color," said Rachel Guglielmo, project director of the Public Health Watch Project, in a press statement. "We need to use proven tools such as frank sexual education and needle exchange to bring HIV incidence down. The U.S. should put its funding priorities here and abroad into programs that are based on solid evidence of what works. Only by first delivering on its commitments at home can the U.S. speak with full credibility to other nations at the U.N. "

A copy of the U.S. policy report is available online at www.publichealthwatch.info. (The Advocate)

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