World AIDS Day is a time to honor the memories of those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS, to remember the progress we’ve made in our fight against this disease, and to rededicate ourselves to ending this pandemic once and for all. The battle to ensure ‘universal access and human rights’ for all living with HIV/AIDS represents one of the great moral challenges of our time. In the United States and around the world, we must continue acting with the urgency, passion, and commitment this fight demands.
Since the first World AIDS Day in 1988, we have dramatically increased resources for both domestic and international HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment, and research. Today, in the U.S., we must continue to do our part to combat this disease by prioritizing increased investments to prevent new infections, keep people living with HIV/AIDS healthy, and accelerate research.
In recent weeks, researchers in San Francisco reported promising advances in prevention using existing treatments to dramatically reduce new HIV infections in high-risk populations. Over the past two years, this Congress has taken enormous strides, expanding investments in HIV/AIDS care, lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange, and reauthorizing the Ryan White Act, 20 years after it was first passed. In passing historic health insurance reform earlier this year, Congress increased access to Medicaid for people with HIV, strengthened the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, and ended discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
We must also maintain and strengthen our commitment to help the more than 33 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS. Globally, treatment access has improved, and new infections and AIDS deaths are both declining, but we must keep up the pressure for more long-term funding – from the U.S. and from our global partners.
On this World AIDS Day, those of us from San Francisco are grieving the recent passing of Randy Allgaier, who worked tirelessly to increase funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and improve systems of care. Randy, and so many in our city and nationwide, fought day and night to beat back this disease. Together, we will continue that same fight – working with determination, hope, and compassion to one day end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.