Friday, January 30, 2009

Refocusing the fight against AIDS

The new CDC figures "confirmed the worst fears" of AIDS activists and have served as a rallying cry to revive efforts, Munar said. Focus on AIDS diminished in the 1990s, and public consciousness framed the disease as an issue for sub-Saharan Africa.

"There is a new sense of optimism that the new president and Congress will act on these data and refocus attention nationally on the epidemic at home," he said. "It has not gone away."


They want condoms for school kids and prisoners, public money for needle-exchange programs, health care for everyone with HIV and prevention campaigns that aren't anti-sex.

After a decade-long lull, AIDS activists are reviving their fight.

This time, they're pushing for a science-based plan from the Obama administration targeting a disease that still kills more than 14,000 Americans each year.

Gay and lesbian activists from across the country are mobilizing in Denver this week at their annual Creating Change conference. The event marks a return to the fierce fight against AIDS and follows recent data showing that 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV each year — a 40 percent increase from what was previously estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The focus is back on HIV after political issues — mainly same-sex marriage and discrimination protection — have preoccupied the gay community the past several years.

"People will have a hard time choosing marriage if they are sick and dying," said Sue Hyde, director of the conference, which is sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "AIDS and HIV have never lost their grip."

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