It was one thing to say we can end the AIDS epidemic, another to say how. Now, with advances in science and years of experience pointing to an evidence-based path, 60 organizations – including those that Science Speaks operates in the midst of, Infectious Diseases Society of America and HIV Medicine Association — and one Archbishop – Desmond Tutu, that is – have presented the Obama administration with a modest proposal: commit a strategy that can accomplish that to paper, and carry it out.
Specifically, the “Call for a US Government AIDS-Free Generation Strategic Plan” asks the Obama administration to put Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in charge of a task force to complete a strategy in time to be announced by the next World AIDS Day – Dec. 1, 2012. If that sounds ambitious, much of what the 61 signers are asking for has been the topic of talk over the course of the last decade: use interventions known to be effective, be transparent, set quantifiable results and monitor them, define priorities, make sure they are ones that will reach what are currently called “key populations” — but are people left out of many efforts in the last decades — those involved in transactional or commercial sex, gay people, transgender people, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs — and involve them and others affected in the efforts. Identify responsibilities and resources. The list, in total includes 10 elements of a successful strategy, and can be found in full right here.
Act 5: The End of AIDS co-founder and vice president Paul Zeitz proposed the idea of a strategic plan in May 2012, the tagline of an article in Health Affairs July all-PEPFAR edition, “Four Principles For Expanding PEPFAR’s Role As A Vital Force in US Health Diplomacy Abroad” says.
“The Secretary of State made a historic pronouncement in November, that an AIDS-free generation would be a policy priority of the United States,” Zeitz says now. “So the question was, how it was going to be implemented?
Dialogues followed, with advocates, with government people. Zeitz talked to people about it at the launch of the Health Affairs issue last week. In the time since, 54 U.S. organizations, and five overseas nonprofits — from France, the United Kingdom, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Kenya and Pakistan have signed, along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Along with IDSA and HIVMA, domestic signers include amfAR, NAMES Project Foundation – AIDS Memorial Quilt, Partners in Health, and RESULTS.
The Call for a US Government AIDS-Free Generation Strategic Plan has been delivered to Obama administration officials. Signers, one can assume, will be listening attentively to Secretary Clinton’s Monday address at the International AIDS Conference in Washington.