Biden Marks 33rd World AIDS Day With New Commitments

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Marking the 33rd annual World AIDS Day on Wednesday, the Biden administration announced it would intensify its domestic and international efforts to fight the HIV virus, which has killed 36 million people worldwide over four decades. .

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President Joe Biden also focused on the domestic on Wednesday. be released National HIV-AIDS Strategy, which aims to reduce new HIV cases in the US by 90% over the next nine years. Currently, about 1.2 million Americans are believed to be living with the virus. The epidemic peaked in the US in the 1980s.

The administration has said the racism that leads to unequal medical care is itself a “threat to public health” that needs to be acknowledged in the fight against the virus.

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President Joe Biden speaks to celebrate World AIDS Day during an event in the East Room of the White House on December 1, 2021.

The president offered two new measures aimed at boosting US efforts to end the pandemic in the United States by 2030 and end the spread of HIV, the virus that could progress to AIDS worldwide.

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“Today, we once again raise the two-story-tall red ribbon from the North Portico of the White House to remember how far we have come,” Biden told an audience of American activists, politicians and medical experts, In which AIDS research pioneer Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “And the work we have left to complete, so we never forget the prices we paid along the way.”

Internationally, where new infections are rampant, the US is looking to increase donor funding. On Wednesday, Biden said the US would host the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Replenishment conference next year. The US is the largest donor to the fund, contributing nearly $17 billion to it last year. This is in addition to a commitment made earlier this year, in which he outlined the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program established in 2003 by President George W. Bush to combat the disease internationally. US rescue plan funds were sent for $250 million. ,

slow, uneven response

Still, it is not clear whether that influx of money will also set the ship right. The UN’s AIDS organization said on Wednesday that the global goal of ending the pandemic by 2030 has been derailed – not just by the coronavirus pandemic affecting global health policy and practices.

FILE - This handout photo provided by the World Health Organization on November 29, 2021 shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressing a special session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

FILE – This handout photo provided by the World Health Organization on November 29, 2021 shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressing a special session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the most at-risk populations were not reaching out with HIV testing, prevention and care services,” said World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The pandemic has made things worse, with disruptions to essential health services and increased susceptibility of people with HIV to COVID-19. Like COVID-19, we have all the tools to end the AIDS epidemic, If we use them well. This World AIDS Day, we call on all countries to use every tool in the toolbox to reduce inequalities, prevent HIV infection, save lives and end the AIDS epidemic. Huh.”

Tedros warns that discrimination and inequality are at the root of the epidemic, and that ignoring these problems will lead to 7.7 million AIDS-related deaths over the next 10 years.

Other critics slam Biden for not moving fast enough on his promises to fight HIV. In August, the world’s leading medical journal, the Lancet, Published criticism of Biden’s speed in nominating a new leader for PEPFAR. In late September, Biden announced his choice for the job after Cameroon-born John Nkengsong, a US citizen who heads the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Senate received the nomination in mid-October and sent it to the Committee on Foreign Relations, where it remains.

FILE - John Nkengsong, director of Africa's Centers for Disease Control, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the African Union Headquarters on March 11, 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

FILE – John Nkengsong, director of Africa’s Centers for Disease Control, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the African Union Headquarters on March 11, 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“During his candidacy, US President Joe Biden committed to prioritizing the global AIDS response,” the authors – two American and two African activists – wrote in the medical publication. “This promise has been refuted by a 6-month delay in nominating an ambassador-at-large to lead PEPFAR, which has acted without an appointed health diplomat as president since Ambassador Deborah L. Birx had to Was detailed to the White House Coronavirus Task Force in February 2020.”

On Wednesday, when he recognized Nkengasong among the crowd that gathered at the White House, Biden was hopeful.

“We can do this,” he said. “We can end HIV transmission. We can bring the epidemic under control in the United States and countries around the world. We have the scientific understanding. We have the treatments. We have the tools we need. We connect with people.” Going with live experience with HIV and making sure our efforts are appropriate and effective and centered around the needs of the HIV community.”

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