By Cassandra Novick
The United States has been a longstanding leader on funding for AIDS treatment and research, yet President Obama has received some negative reviews regarding its commitment to fighting the epidemic.
But according to Dan Tietz, Executive Director of AIDS Community Research Initiatives of America, the administration should be applauded for its efforts to combat AIDS. ”For the most part,” [the administration] has done an amazing job in addressing the epidemic,” Tietz said during an interview with TRNS.
Tietz cited Obama’s commitment to HIV/AIDS funding despite the U.S.’s economic challenges, his implementation of the first-ever US National AIDS Strategy, and the administration’s decision to lift a longtime ban on HIV-positive travelers, which is the reason that this year’s conference was allowed to take place in the U.S. for the first time in 20 years.
One of the key focuses of this week’s International AIDS Conference for Tietz is the relationship between HIV and aging. Tietz stressed the need for greater understanding of how HIV impacts the aging process because, “as a result of better treatment, almost half of the world population of HIV-positive individuals will be 50 years or older.”
TRNS also asked Tietz about the gap in federal funding for growing ADAP waiting lists.
Tietz explained that funding for ADAP is derived from a mix of federal and state funding. Though federal contributions to ADAP have remained fairly stable despite, he said, the problem lies with state budget cuts that have reduced the amount of money available to fund treatment.
However, Tietz said that despite the criticisms over a lack of federal funding in the face of growing ADAP wait lists, the Obama administration committed $25 million to ADAP last year. He also noted that Obama requested additional funding in his 2013 budget plan.
Overall, Tietz explained, “there is more federal money, but the funding is not keeping pace with the need.”