Global AIDS Advocates Say “Keep the Promise”

By Jesse  Brooks  

From left to right: Kabir Hypolite, Director of Alameda County Office of AIDS; Karen Mark, MD, MPH, Interm chief State Office of AIDS, Naina Khanna, Member of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; Dr. Grant Colfax, who was in town for the Bay Area National HIV/AIDS Strategy Symposium; and symposium host Adrian McCall, MNA, Regional Resource Coordinator. Dr. Colfax, Director the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), spoke at Oakland’s Asian Cultural Center June 8. In March of this year, President Obama named him as the new director of the ONAP. Colfax was most recently the director of the HIV Prevention Section in the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Prior to the opening ceremonies of the XIX International AIDS conference in Washington, D.C.  in July, Wyclef Jean and Ambassador Andrew Young will join a crowd of over 10,000 at a “Keep the Promise” march and rally, to mobilize support for the continued fight against HIV. The march and rally are designed to publicize the domestic and global concerns of many AIDS advocates, and present a collective commitment to specific actions and solutions to address the epidemic. Organizers of the march want to remind world leaders and policymakers that the AIDS epidemic remains a global threat to public health. Advocates also want to refocus public attention to the lack of access to HIV testing, treatment and prevention. Paramount is the wavering political commitment to funding the global AIDS response and excessive AIDS drug pricing by pharmaceutical companies. Without more resources for treatment, care, prevention and cost-effective interventions, progress achieved over the past 30 years could be lost. Wyclef Jean, Grammy award winning musician, songwriter and humanitarian will be the opening headliner. Following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake he helped mobilize international support and assistance. Civil rights leader Andrew Young will deliver the keynote speech on the National Mall, where he participated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  at the historic 1963 civil rights March on Washington. “The (AIDS) march presents an ideal opportunity for AIDS advocates and organizations the world over to join together and have their collective voices heard to press the US and world leaders to do the right thing on AIDS funding, care and treatment,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Health Foundation. The international AIDS conference, which will take place after the march, is expected to draw over 25,000 delegates including scientists, community leaders, advocates and activists from over 200 countries. It will be 20 years since the conference was last held in the U.S. and will give the nation an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment and continued leadership to battling the disease at home and globally.
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