December 11, 2008

December 11, 2008
What President-Elect Obama Can Do About HIV and AIDS in the United States

Today is Thursday and we are rapidly approaching another weekend. Time flies especially during the holiday season with work, shopping and holiday activities.

While people do not always have the best manners during the holiday rush, I always try to keep a positive outlook and not let them ruin my holiday spirit. This is one of my favorite times of year.

I have received many emails asking what I think President Elect Obama can do about the problem of HIV and AIDS in the United States. So I decided to write about the issue for my blog today.

Our President-elect can demonstrate his unwavering commitment to progress fighting HIV/AIDS with decisive, early actions:

1. Use executive powers and the bully pulpit to promote greater progress in HIV prevention, care, and research activities and the protection of human rights. Immediate presidential orders can improve the delivery of HIV related services and help protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, President Obama must call on Congress to increase the U.S. investment in HIV related programs and pass needed legislation, including measures to expand Medicaid coverage for HIV positive people and increase the availability of proven effective needle exchange programs.

2. Name the most experienced, diverse HIV/AIDS team in history to implement the new Administration's bold AIDS related agenda. President Obama's team should reflect the diversity of HIV/AIDS, reward experience fighting the epidemic at home and abroad, and counter persistent HIV stigma by recruiting skilled professionals who are openly living with HIV/AIDS.

3. Grant the U.S. domestic AIDS office the same level of responsibility, authority, and prestige assigned to the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator. The federal government's global AIDS enterprise offers an effective management structure that could well be replicated to improve domestic AIDS activities. Given the necessity to track progress and achieve results, the domestic AIDS office and existing advisory structures must be reformed.

4. Name AIDS advocates and experts to important policy making boards and councils on poverty, civil rights, health care reform, criminal justice, drug policy, housing, and food security issues. HIV/AIDS is a crosscutting issue affected by other services sectors. In addition, lessons learned responding to the epidemic can benefit other national policy priorities.

5. Create a panel a group of experts and federal officials, inclusive of people living with HIV/AIDS, to draft the Administration's coordinated, results oriented National AIDS Strategy. Planning should begin immediately and within the first 100 days in office. To achieve the level of coordination and input needed from across various federal agencies, high ranking officials from relevant agencies should be named to the panel. Vice President Joe Biden or a member of the Cabinet might be named to co-chair the panel, with a strict mandate to complete the Strategy no later than January 2010.

6. Inspire national service fighting HIV/AIDS domestically. Guided by a National AIDS Strategy, President Obama should enlist the goodwill of the American people to end AIDS domestically through national service opportunities and a call for global AIDS action inclusive of our own country.

Those are my ideas. Drop me a line and let me know yours. Inquiring minds want to know.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab