Thursday, September 6, 2012

Warren got AIDS talk a seat at DNC, RNC

When President Bill Clinton mentioned in his nominating speech Wednesday night President George W. Bush's support for AIDS initiatives, it was a reminder of how HIV/AIDS has been pretty much been nonexistent in the presidential campaign and general election-year discussions.

The issue did make the Democratic Party's Platform released this week. The platform also acknowledges Bush's role in the AIDS battle noting that President Obama has "made unprecedented progress in the global fight against HIV/AIDS... building on the strong foundation created during the previous administration."

The platform continues: "With his latest budget, the President [Obama] is fulfilling his historic commitment to request $4 billion over three years for the Global Fund, and the President remains committed to robust funding for PEPFAR and the Global Fund in the future. And President Obama lifted the 25-year ban that prevented non-citizens living with HIV from entering the United States, allowing the world's largest group of HIV/AIDS researchers, policymakers, medical professionals, and advocates to convene in Washington to continue their efforts to improve prevention and treatment."

But it took Charlotte's own Debbie Warren to give a presence to HIV/AIDS at the Democratic National Convention this week (and at the Republican National Convention last week). On Wednesday I ran into Warren at a DNC event. Warren founded and heads RAIN - the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network that for 20 years has been helping and educating people about HIV/AIDS.

A while back, Warren called to query national officials about whether there would be be discussions of HIV/AIDS and policies during the national conventions, and suggest that there should be. Officials said they hadn't thought about it. But they found it a good suggestion, and with that planning got under way.

On Tuesday, there was capacity seating for the "Turn the Tide of HIV/AIDS in the U.S." event at the First United Methodist Church uptown. It aimed to educate the community about the importance of health care access and Medicaid expansion for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Discussions about HIV/AIDS at a convention in the South seems particularly appropriate. The South has the greatest number of people living and dying from HIV/AIDS. Four out of ten (40%) Americans living with AIDS reside in the South. Here in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), seven new cases of HIV were reported on average every week.

Attendees at Tuesday's discussions included members of Congress including California Congresswoman Barbara Jackson Lee, chairman of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, who spoke. Jeffrey Crowley, who served as the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and Senior Advisor on Disability Policy for President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011 was also a speaker. As the President's chief HIV/AIDS advisor, Crowley developed the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States, focused on lowering the number of new HIV infections, increasing access to care, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. Physicians and other health officials, DNC delegates, activists and community leaders and people living with HIV/AIDS were on hand to discuss the state of national HIV/AIDS legislation and policy, and issues related to access to care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Before the conventions got under way, Ronald Johnson, AIDS United Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, gave an apt rationale for putting these talks into the political arena. He said that the political conventions "provided and opportunity to remind people that we have the tools to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country, if we choose to exercise our political will to do it... We must ensure that candidates both commit to and are held accountable for ensuring that people living with HIV in the United States get the life-saving treatment and care they need, and that people who don't have HIV remain HIV-free."

Posted by Fannie Flono


Wiley Coyote said...

Warren, our Native American hero.

Jim said...

Different "Warren", Wiley.

Wiley Coyote said...

I stand corrected... thanks Jim...

Garth Vader said...

Funny, my copy of the Constitution doesn't permit the Federal government to involve itself in healthcare. When was it amended?