President Obama joined former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to observe World AIDS Day in Washington, D.C., Thursday morning at an event sponsored by ONE Campaign and (RED)’s Beginning of the End of AIDS. Although the rate of infection is going down, it has soared in many minority communities.
“When new infections among young, Black, gay men increase by nearly 50 percent in three years, we need to do more to show them that their lives matter," Obama said in remarks delivered at George Washington University. “When Latinos are dying sooner than other groups; when Black women feel forgotten even though they account for most of the new cases among women, we need to do more.”
The president announced several initiatives aimed at combating the AIDS virus, including an additional $50 million for treatment and medical facilities. He also said that the administration has set a goal to help six million people receive treatment by the end of 2013, which is an increase of two million, and plans to encourage state governments, pharmaceutical companies and private foundations to join the effort to help more Americans gain access to life-saving treatment.
“The federal government can’t do this alone,” Obama said.
Speaking by satellite from Tanzania, Bush said that despite budgetary constraints, lawmakers must continue to support the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was initiated by his administration.
“We’re a blessed nation the United States and I believe we are required to support effective programs that save lives,” he said.
Approximately 1.2 million Americans are living with the HIV virus that causes AIDS and according the White House, more than 200,000 Americans have contracted the virus but don’t know it.
“We are going to win this fight,” Obama said. “But the fight’s not over, not by a long shot.”
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(Photo:Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)