Dozens of AIDS service, advocacy, and research organizations on Monday launched a new Web site aimed at providing information on the AIDS-related policies of the presidential candidates and to urge support for a model "AIDS platform" published on the site. The site, found online at www.aidsvote.org, has two goals, says Michael Kink of New York's Housing Works, one of the groups to help launch the site. "The first is to educate and inform presidential candidates about the concrete steps necessary to ensure our country is the world leader on HIV/AIDS and public health," he explains. "The second goal is to educate and inform voters on the stands taken by the candidates on these crucial issues." Early next year, the site will post responses from all of the presidential candidates to an AIDSVote.org questionnaire on HIV/AIDS issues.
The site currently offers up an HIV/AIDS platform endorsed by more than 100 groups around the country that the site's founders hope the presidential candidates and political parties will adopt. The 10-point domestic/nine-point international platform includes calls to fully address the medical needs of all Americans living with HIV/AIDS, including protection of Medicaid, increased funding for the Ryan White Act, and full funding of the nation's AIDS Drug Assistance Programs; to support effective, science-based HIV prevention methods, including needle-exchange programs and the end of abstinence-only sex education and HIV prevention outreach; increase funding of scientific research, including into HIV vaccines and microbicides; and assurances of safe, affordable, and medically appropriate housing for people living with AIDS. The platform was developed by AIDS activists and advocates, led by staff from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Housing Works, Gay Men's Health Crisis, the National Association of People With AIDS, Project Inform, and Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization for Power.