News Release

World AIDS Day


Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day.

Bernstine is the executive director of the National AIDS Housing Coalition. The NAHC has recently released a report titled “Housing is the Foundation of HIV Prevention and Treatment.” The report states that “homelessness or unstable housing is directly related to greater HIV risk among vulnerable persons” and that “17 to 60 percent of all persons living with HIV/AIDS report a lifetime experience of homelessness or housing instability, depending on the jurisdiction studied.” Bernstine said today: “These powerful findings provide the basis for a public health response to the housing needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and of persons whose homelessness places them at heightened risk of HIV infection.”

Other experts available to comment on the report include Holtgrave, the department head at Johns Hopkins University; Aidala, professor at Columbia University’s School of Public Health; and Quattrochi, CEO of Bailey House, New York’s oldest AIDS housing provider.
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Baker is a professor at the Northeastern University School of Law and policy advisor to the Health Global Access Project. He said today: “Meeting the [target set by the World Health Organization to provide 3 million people living with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries with antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2005] and aspiring for universal treatment in 2010 are severely compromised by U.S. efforts to enact ever higher intellectual property protections for the world’s richest pharmaceutical companies. Newer second-line AIDS medicines cost four to ten times as much as first-line therapies and more and more patients require newer treatments because of drug resistance. India has had its hands tied with a new Patent Act; Brazil has been pressured not to issue compulsory licenses; and the U.S. Trade Representative has won patent and data exclusivity concessions in Central America and the Middle East. On the international stage, the U.S. seeks additional concessions from Africa Group countries at the WTO and has just forced a transition agreement that undermines least developed countries’ rights to amend their existing patent legislation. Once again, the U.S. prioritizes profits over lives.”

Colgan, director of policy analysis and communications at Africa Action, said today: “In Africa, where more than 25 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, access to antiretroviral treatment is a matter of life and death. But the prices charged by pharmaceutical companies, and the policies pursued by rich countries at their behest, continue to keep life-saving treatment out of reach for those most affected by HIV/AIDS. The latest UNAIDS report emphasizes that only one in ten Africans in need of antiretroviral treatment are now receiving it. Unless there is a change in the drug companies’ behavior, and in the policies of the U.S. and other countries that support their interests, the promise of universal access to HIV treatment by 2010 has little hope of being realized.”
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Dossani is the director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network. He said today: “The IMF and World Bank enforce limits on the amount of money governments can spend on health programs and HIV/AIDS. These ‘IMF budget ceilings’ are among the most horrendous forms of control over countries’ economies, especially in countries suffering from the AIDS pandemic.”
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Kar is the communications and advocacy coordinator for the Jubilee USA Network. She said today: “Impoverished countries in Africa and Latin America are facing deadly delays in receiving desperately needed debt cancellation. On World AIDS Day, we are reminded of the urgency of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which will take the lives of more than 2 million people on the African continent this year. … Debt cancellation is part of the solution to HIV/AIDS in Africa and elsewhere.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167