Obama Administration Announces New Campaign to Refocus on HIV/AIDS Crisis

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

Officials from the White House, Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced recently a new five-year national communication campaign, Act Against AIDS, which highlights this alarming statistic and aims to combat complacency about the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States.

According to CDC data released last year, about 56,000 Americans become newly infected with HIV each year – significantly more than was previously known – and more than 14,000 people with AIDS die each year in the United States.

“Act Against AIDS seeks to put the HIV crisis back on the national radar screen,” said Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “Our goal is to remind Americans that HIV/AIDS continues to pose a serious health threat in the United States and encourage them to get the facts they need to take action for themselves and their communities.”

The campaign will feature public service announcements (PSAs) and online communications, as well as targeted messages and outreach to the populations most severely affected by HIV/AIDS, beginning with African-Americans, with subsequent phases focusing on Latinos and other communities disproportionately impacted.

To help achieve widespread use of the campaign messages within African- American communities, the Obama Administration also announced today the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a partnership with 14 of the nation’s leading African-American civic organizations to integrate HIV prevention into each organization’s outreach programs.

To promote broad use of the campaign messages, CDC is also collaborating with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to focus on outreach and technical assistance to the media and the entertainment industry.

The Act Against AIDS campaign will be supported by a CDC budget of roughly $45 million over the next five years, as well as the efforts of community, media and public health partners across the country to promote and utilize campaign materials and messages.

The first phase of the Act Against AIDS campaign, called “9 Minutes,” uses a series of video, audio, print and online materials to increase knowledge about the severity of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States.

The campaign highlights the simple fact that every 9 minutes someone in the United States becomes infected with HIV.

The materials released today direct Americans to “get the facts” by going to the Web site www.NineAndaHalfMinutes. org as a first step toward learning how they can help protect themselves and others.

The site provides basic education about HIV/AIDS as well as referrals to HIV prevention and testing services and organizations throughout the nation.

“Right here in the United States, every 9 minutes someone’s brother, sister, best friend, father or mother becomes infected with HIV,” said Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.

“Yet, research shows that many of those becoming infected do not recognize their risk. This is a major concern, because lack of knowledge contributes to increased risk behaviors.”

The next phase to launch will focus on African- Americans, who, by far, bear the greatest burden of HIV in the United States.

While accounting for just 12 percent of the U.S. population, blacks represent roughly half of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths every year.

Targeted communications to encourage increased HIV testing among the two groups of African-Americans most severely affected, gay or bisexual men and women, will begin shortly.

Future phases of the Act Against AIDS campaign will focus on reaching specific populations at greatest risk with HIV prevention messages tailored to meet their unique needs including Latinos and other high risk groups.

To encourage broad use of Act Against AIDS campaign materials and messages, CDC is partnering with the Kaiser Family Foundation – a leader in health policy and communications – to enlist widespread participation in the campaign from the media and entertainment industries. The initiative will establish a coalition of media partners who are committed to increasing knowledge of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Industry partners will be encouraged to use the PSAs, and to undertake their own additional efforts.

“The media and entertainment industries are powerful forces in breaking through complacency and focusing national attention on important issues,” said Drew E. Altman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Kaiser is pleased to partner with the Obama Administration and the CDC to help build and sustain a coordinated national media response to HIV and AIDS in the United States with particular focus on the most impacted communities.”

Partnership with National African-American Organizations Extends Reach of Campaign.

The Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) will work with leading organizations in multiple sectors of the black community – civic, business, media and education – to deliver campaign messages and conduct community outreach activities.

The initiative’s participants include: 100 Black Men of America, American Urban Radio Networks, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, National Action Network, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Coalition of 100 Black Women, National Council of Negro Women, National Medical Association, National Newspaper Publishers Association, National Organization of Black County Officials, National Urban League, Phi Beta Sigma and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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