Friday, November 30, 2007

Democratic Presidential Candidates Respond To Questions About Needle-Exchange Programs, Sex Education

aidsvote.gifFrom Kaiser Daily: Most Democratic presidential candidates would support lifting a ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs and replacing abstinence-only sex education with comprehensive HIV prevention programs if elected, according to a survey released Wednesday ahead of World AIDS Day, the AP/Sioux City Journal reports. The survey was conducted by AIDS Project of Central Iowa, Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa and several other groups in the state. It included three questions and was sent to Democratic and Republican presidential candidates (AP/Sioux City Journal, 11/29).

The questions are:

  • Do you support the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), which expands Medicaid for HIV-positive people who would otherwise need to become completely disabled in order to qualify for Medicaid-covered services?
  • Do you support the replacement of funding for international and domestic "abstinence only" HIV prevention programs with scientifically based, comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education programs?
  • Do you support access to sterile syringes, as a means of protecting public health, by lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange? (Survey text, 11/28).
Among the Democratic candidates, Sen. Joe Biden (Del.), former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson met the deadline for the survey and all answered "yes" to the three questions. Answers from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) were too late to be included in materials distributed by the coalition. However, her campaign "did respond 'yes' to the questions" after the deadline, Becky Johnson with the AIDS Project of Central Iowa said.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both of whom are running for the Republican presidential nomination, declined to answer the questionnaire. The remaining Republican and Democratic candidates did not respond, according to the AP/Journal.

The coalition in a statement said there has been a "lack of leadership at all levels that has allowed HIV to continue to spread through inaction and failed promises." The other agencies involved in the questionnaire include the American Red Cross Central Iowa Chapter, Lutheran Services in Iowa Refugee Cooperative, Urban Dreams, Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network and Creative Visions (AP/Sioux City Journal, 11/29).

The survey is available online.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hillary Clinton to Talk About HIV/AIDS at Evangelical Mega-Church

hillaryclinton.gifHillary Clinton will be participating in a Global Summit on HIV/AIDS and the Church, according to a report in Newsmax.  Clinton was invited to speak by evangelical power-player Pastor Rick Warren.  The event takes place at Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.

Warren is best known as the other of The Purpose Driven Life, and been a strong HIV Advocate for HIV/AIDS.  Warren has often criticized the evangelical church, and Baptists, in particular for being  "known for what we’re against rather than what we’re for.”

This is not the first time a Presidential Candidate has appeared at the Saddleback Church.  Barack Obama appeared at the 2006 Summit on HIV/AIDS, where he delivered his most substantive speech on HIV/AIDS of this campaign.

Evangelicals were once considered the core of the Republican Party, but are now considered a more diverse group of voters.  Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean recently addressed the National Baptist Convention, and the Democrats Faith in Action Program, created by Dean, has been reaching out to people of all faiths.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Giuliani HIV/AIDS Advisor: Cause for Concern

From Kaiser: A recent opinion piece by Sally Pipes -- president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, a think tank that receives some funding from drug companies -- about intellectual property rights and compulsory licenses for patented antiretroviral drugs is "frightening," Andrew Green, a publishing fellow, writes in the American Prospect. If Pipes were "just running a think tank with pharmaceutical funding, it could be read as a shill piece and dismissed. But there's more to Pipes' biography: She is also a health care adviser to Rudy Giuliani," the former New York City mayor who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, Green adds (Green, American Prospect, 11/15).

In her opinion piece, Pipes says it was a "staggering display of cluelessness" for Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to sponsor a resolution that praises the Thai government for its decision to issue compulsory licenses to make generic versions of patented antiretroviral drugs. She adds that Thailand's actions "threaten to upset the economic incentives that allow Western firms to produce novel cures," saying, "Without patent protections, the drug industry as we know it would collapse, and development of new drugs would be significantly curtailed" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/18).

Pipes opinion piece "can be read both as a signal that her role is expanding and as a preview of the HIV/AIDS policy she is encouraging Giuliani to adopt, specifically one without regard for the immediate need for as many cheap generic antiretrovirals as possible," Green writes. According to Green, while this is "cause for concern," the "real crisis" is that "Giuliani might actually be receptive to her arguments."

Giuliani has "expressed an interest in continuing and possibly expanding the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief," but it is "apparent" he has "thought little about what that actually means," Green says. In addition, Giuliani has not described his HIV prevention strategy or whether he would expand treatment options, according to Green. "His lack of investment or concern about the issue leaves him vulnerable to insiders like Pipes, whose business-first agendas are prepackaged," Green writes. He adds that it is "not outlandish to think that [Giuliani] might make AIDS relief contingent on buying brand-name antiretrovirals" or "levy trade restrictions and financial penalties on countries, like Thailand, that determine the best way to immediately reach the most HIV/AIDS patients is to produce their own antiretrovirals."

Green suggests that all presidential candidates "study the AIDS policy Democrat John Edwards has introduced," adding that the "first move Giuliani should make, though, is to send Pipes back to the sideline and hire some advisers whose values aren't predicated on profit margins" (American Prospect, 11/15).

Monday, November 5, 2007

HIV/AIDS Advocate Joines Rudy Giuliani Campaign

The Rudy Guiliani campaign announced on Friday that openly gay Republican Party activist Carl Schmid has joined the Guiliani campaign as a co-chair of the campaign's DC leadership team.

Carl Schmid stated “As Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani cut taxes, cut crime, and got hundreds of thousands of people off the welfare rolls and back to work all while working with a heavily Democratic City Council. That’s the kind of strong leadership we need in the White House.”

Schmid currently serves as the Director of Federal Affairs for the AIDS Institute, a conservative-leaning national HIV/AIDS advocacy organization.

Schmid, a 2004 delegate to the Republican National Convention, has played an active role in the DC Republican Party.

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