Statement of SIECUS President and CEO, Joseph DiNorcia, Jr.
on World AIDS Day 2009
On this World AIDS Day, we mark the passing of another year in which we have lost friends and family to this horrible epidemic. We also mark the passing of another year in which prevention and treatment efforts, here and across the globe, have stopped countless new infections and have allowed people living with HIV and AIDS to lead healthier longer lives. Today, we pause, reflect, and examine areas where we can improve our efforts so that we can work smarter, not just harder, in combating the global threat of AIDS.
Domestically, HIV infection and prevalence rates remain extremely high. While we all know that HIV/AIDS can and does affect all communities, traditionally underserved communities such as young women, men who have sex with men, and African Americans are being hit particularly hard. In order to make significant progress in the fight against domestic HIV infection, we need to show a real commitment by fully funding the National HIV/AIDS strategy. Policy means nothing unless it is backed with money, and we intend to continue to educate policy makers on the federal level to this end.
Internationally, we believe that prevention is the key to stemming the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, too much of U.S. spending on international HIV prevention has gone to promote abstinence-only and marriage-promotion programs. These programs are ineffective and leave people vulnerable because they have no practical knowledge of how to avoid HIV infection. International HIV prevention funding should instead be channeled to youth-targeted comprehensive sex education programs. Through real, evidence-based and medically accurate sex education, instead of ideologically driven programs, individuals learn information and strategies that will allow them to protect and take responsibility for their own sexual and reproductive health.
President Obama’s administration has had nearly a year to address these issues, but not as much progress has been made as we hoped. Though the challenges in front of us can seem daunting, we possess the tools and blueprints to overcome them. We merely need to act.
As with every year on World AIDS Day, my thoughts and prayers, and the thoughts and prayers of all of us at SIECUS, are with every life that has been touched by this epidemic. We will use the memories of those who have passed on and the courage of those living with HIV and AIDS to inspire us to continue our work.
Click Here to read the World AIDS Day 2009 "Universal Access and Human Rights" Global Health Community Statement by SIECUS and its partners