“Given the starkness and the enduring nature of the disparate impact on gay and bisexual men, it is important to significantly reprioritize resources and attention on this community,” says the document. “The United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men.”
Craig Washington, who is gay and a longtime HIV activist in Atlanta, was praised by President Obama during a White House reception about the new HIV strategy. (Photo via Facebook)
The document adds, “As with gay and bisexual men, transgender individuals are also at high risk for HIV infection. … Yet, historically, efforts targeting this specific population have been minimal.”
Other high-risk groups the strategy calls for targeting are blacks, Latinos and substance abusers.
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy and an accompanying 35-page Federal Implementation Plan call for reducing the overall number of new infections by at least 25 percent over the next five years; increasing access to medical care and “optimizing health outcomes” for people living with HIV; and reducing HIV-related health disparities.
The strategy and implementation document were released as part of a briefing that included Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services, and Jeff Crowley, the gay director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.
President Obama hosted a reception in the White House East Room for about 150 national and community activists working on HIV/AIDS issues. Attending from Atlanta were longtime HIV/AIDS activists Craig Washington of AID Atlanta; Paul Plate, executive director of Positive Impact; and Dazon Dixon Diallo, founder and president of SisterLove Inc.
Obama specifically discussed Washington’s work along with two other activists.
“We’re here because of people like Craig Washington, who after seeing what was happening in his community — friends passing away; life stories sanitized, as he put it, at funerals; homophobia, all the discrimination that surrounded the disease — Craig got tested, disclosed his status, with the support of his partner and his family, and took up the movement for prevention and awareness in which he is a leader today,” Obama said.
Sebelius and Crowley announced that the Obama administration would allocate $30 million to implement the strategy from a disease prevention fund created by the Affordable Care Act.