Tending to Our Back Yard: The Realities about HIV/AIDS

Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the President’s Plan for AIDS Relief at $50 billion over 5 years to combat the global health crisis posed by AIDS and other diseases.

In President Bush’s original executive budget, he had proposed a $28 million increase to abstinence-only education and no increase for HIV/AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health.

Fortunately, both the Senate and House versions of the bill would remove a requirement that one-third of HIV prevention funds that focus on countries that receive PEPFAR be used for abstinence-until-marriage programs.

Notwithstanding the needs of the 40 million sufferers around the world, there are substantial problems providing the critical support services in the United States. For example:

  • In New York State alone, there are 110,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and another estimated 28,000 are undiagnosed
  • Young people in age ranges of 15-24 account for almost half of all new HIV infections reported in the US each year
  • It is overlooked that women are affected and increasing in numbers
  • There are lack of proper services and resources for health care providers to support prevention and treatment

In response to President Bush’s original executive budget, Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) commented “he proposes to either cut or flat-fund critical programs for research, HIV prevention and care, while continuing to call for increases in harmful programs like abstinence-only education.”

Where the current administration has failed to advance the fight against the AIDS crisis, programs such as (PRODUCT) RED have done an excellent job capitalizing on co branding and marketing opportunities with leading brands such as Apple, Dell, American Express and Armani, where consumers buy RED items and money is directed to the Global Fund. RED contributions to the Global Fund recently reached a $100 million milestone.

However, while the quest for funding and resources continues to be challenging..

Major gaps continue to prevail in the proper appropriation of funds and providing the necessary services toward the fight against HIV/AIDS.....

For and not-for-profit businesses have a timely opportunity to further mobilize action and their substantial resources to complement existing social and economic responsibility initiatives:

  • Cause Alignment: Select HIV/AIDS and develop an integrated education initiative for our youth both at home and in global destinations that represent business interests
  • Employee/Workplace Programs: Communicate with and educate employees who are key to productivity. Establish workplace programs as the basis for company engagement, as well as an extension to NGO and public-sector programs. With volunteerism on the rise, companies can impact their communities by engaging their workforce in local projects
  • Small Businesses: Small and medium-sized businesses are a growing sector employing about 80% of the worlds workforce and need to be engaged in programs that protect employees from global epidemics
  • Big Businesses: They have the marketing, resources and scale to reach the public at large with critical messages and research about prevention, treatment and protecting human rights

Let's fill in the gaps between our administration, businesses and communities to further mitigate the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Source: GMHC. Joinred.com. New York Department of Health.