Tuesday, September 18, 2007

HIV Prevention and the Hillary Affect

Senator Hillary Clinton [D-N.Y.] finally released her long-awaited health care platform at a press conference in Iowa. The White House hopeful, who remains all too aware of the political debacle she led during her husband's first administration, appeared more nuanced as she again urged universal health care for all Americans. Her critics predictably criticized the plan as Hillary care, Part II, but a coalition of more than 100 organizations coincidentally used Clinton's announcement to urge her and other presidential candidates to address ending the epidemic in their health care platforms.

One can easily argue that continued bureaucratic wrangling -- and even neglect -- has enhanced the virus' impact in this country. People of Color in Crisis executive director Michael Roberson described this as 'genocide by neglect' in a recent interview to describe AIDS' devastating impact among communities of color in which he and his staff work. [Bushwick has one of New York City's highest rates of HIV and AIDS] The lack of local, state and federal funding for appropriate prevention and outreach efforts is another facet of this multidimensional problem while underlying poverty, racism, homophobia and even machismo add fuel to the fire. The epidemic is more than 26-years-old. It remains a devastating plague which continues to ravage entire communities and even countries around the world.

So-called special interests will obviously continue to seek to influence the policy agendas of those who seek to win the White House next November. It remains unclear as to rather this coalition of HIV prevention organizations will succeed in their mission. The problem of HIV and AIDS remains an issue which the candidates need to address much sooner than later because lives remain at stake. Let's hope Clinton and her counterparts shed light on this critically important issue.

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