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The San Francisco AIDS Foundation wasted no time in letting President Bush know what needs to be done about the HIV/AIDS epidemic by sending the president its own wish list. The foundation asked the president to:
• Increase federal funding for HIV prevention activities and ensure that federally funded HIV prevention efforts remain responsive to community-based planning and focused on populations at greatest risk for HIV.
• Unequivocally endorse the scientific evidence showing that syringe exchange programs reduce HIV infections without encouraging drug use and advocate for federal funding for local syringe exchange programs.
• Develop new strategies and/or refine existing strategies to reduce HIV infections among gay men.
• Recognize the essential link between housing and health care for people living with HIV and ensure that this understanding serves as the foundation for administration policy in this area.
• Expand federal funding for programs that provide affordable housing to people living with HIV and other disabling conditions. In particular, increase the availability of affordable housing for individuals with multiple diagnoses, including substance abuse, mental illness, and HIV disease.
• Increase funding for National Institutes of Health research on critical public health concerns, including research specifically related to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
• Support the Office of AIDS Research, which coordinates the variety of HIV research that occurs within the Institutes of Health.
• Encourage rigorous research and timely development of the next generation of safe and effective pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tools to treat HIV infection. Prioritize the development of drugs that are affordable, easily delivered, and tolerable for people living with HIV and AIDS.
• Recognize the national security, economic, and humanitarian implications of the global HIV pandemic and assert our nation’s responsibility to be a leader in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
• Increase access to HIV/AIDS-related treatments throughout the world through trade agreements, development grants, indigenous country generic drug development, and multinational negotiations with industry.
• Increase federal appropriations for HIV-related public health medical and support service programs, including the highest possible funding levels for the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act.
• Ensure the medical providers who treat people living with HIV are educated about the Public Health Service Guidelines for HIV Treatment.
• Expand coverage for medical treatment of low-income and uninsured individuals living with HIV disease by extending Medicaid eligibility to those in the earlier stages of HIV infection.
• Establish an affordable and accessible drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries. The benefit should provide coverage for all necessary pharmaceuticals, including "off-label" medications.
• Bolster funding to the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH 2010) initiative.
• Continue to provide the highest possible levels of funding for the Congressional Black Caucus Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative.
• Increase funding for programs that provide critical HIV prevention and care services in the developing world.
• Promote the human rights of people living with HIV and work to minimize HIV-related discrimination and stigmatization throughout the world.
• Increase access to HIV/AIDS-related treatments throughout the world through trade agreements, developing grants, indigenous country generic drug development, and multinational negotiations with industry.
[Editor’s note: To read the entire San Francisco AIDS Foundation letter, visit the foundation’s Web site at: www.sfaf.org/policy/recommendations/index.html.]