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Presidential Candidates Should Address HIV Epidemic More Directly

Following the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in July, “delegates left Washington with a clear focus on achieving an AIDS-free generation,” Chip Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “But in the weeks following, HIV/AIDS and global health have largely disappeared from our political dialogue,” he says, because “[n]ational attention is squarely focused on the November elections, and we haven’t seen the ‘post-conference’ bounce that these issues deserve.” He continues, “Although there was mention of support for PEPFAR and the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] at this summer’s conventions, this kind of high-level call to action was noticeably absent in Tampa and Charlotte.”

“There is optimism among global health leaders that we are seeing the beginning of the end of AIDS. But we won’t get there without the public support that comes from knowing it is within our grasp — and the political will to make it happen,” Lyons writes. “As issues like foreign assistance are debated in the weeks to come, we should remember our successes. But we must also remember the 70 percent of children who are not receiving HIV treatment, and the 50 percent of HIV-positive, pregnant women who are not receiving effective services to prevent their babies from being infected,” he says, concluding, “We must continue our efforts until every woman and every child is protected against HIV and AIDS and other preventable and treatable illnesses. On behalf of them, let’s demand a campaign promise from our leaders this fall” (9/24).