Obama Added $30 Million to America’s HIV Fighting Effort. Can Those Pennies Even Do Anything?

I stopped reading about Obama’s grand new HIV/AIDS plan as soon as I saw the price tag: $30 million. That’s … it?

There’s two dollar figures here. The first is $27.2 billion, or how much the administration will spend in fiscal 2011 on HIV/AIDS at home and around the globe. That is a lot of money! But the second number is $30 million, or how much new cash Obama found in the health care bill that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could divide up among state and federal agencies under his new National AIDS Strategy.

Thirty million bucks to cut the number of new HIV cases by 25 percent and get medications to 85 percent of patients in need within three months of diagnosis. You don’t need the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition or the AIDS Healthcare Foundation or Housing Works to understand that math. You need a calculator and a pipe dream.

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  • Qjersey

    1) CUT corporate welfare. The government could save millions of dollars on HIV meds by negotiating with drug companies just like health insurance companies. Just like Medicare Part D, government funded prescriptions have turned into a cash cow for the corporations.

    2) If gay men account for 50% of the HIV cases then 50% of prevention money should be steered that way.

    3) All sex education must be gay inclusive, gay teens are having sex and when they come of age it’s not like they are gonna get safer sex messages in their local gay bars.

  • Chuck

    AIDS meds need to be free to US citizens the way they are (at US citizen expense) in many other countries. This is a national disgrace that neither this plan, Obama, or the Department of Health and Human Services have talked about.

    What is the point of Bush’s one good decision for AIDS in Africa. No funds should be spent in Africa until people here can afford or get free meds. Where is the leadership for new programs and heavy investment into research. What is this, the Reagan Administration?

    Prevention is really beside the point. The global pandemic is KILLING Americans and the government does nothing. Waiting list = death list. States cannot be trusted with lives of people. Would this work for food safety? Defense? No. It doesn’t work for AIDS either.

  • B

    QUEERTY: “Thirty million bucks to cut the number of new HIV cases by 25 percent and get medications to 85 percent of patients in need within three months of diagnosis. You don’t need the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition or the AIDS Healthcare Foundation or Housing Works to understand that math. You need a calculator and a pipe dream.”

    Let’s see. According to http://www.emedicinehealth.com/rapid_oral_hiv_test/page3_em.htm the cost of a “rapid oral HIV test” is $8. Of the new cases in 2007, 17,507 were for African Americans (49% of the total number of cases). In terms of behavior, male-male sexual contact accounted for 16,749 cases (64% of the male cases or 49% of the total). If we spent a bit over $10 million on testing high-risk African Americans and a bit under $20 million in education targeting this demographic group, we’d come close to reaching the goal. It’s reasonable – the statistics suggest that African Americans for whatever reason are not getting the same level of disease-prevention services as other Americans.

  • Yet Another

    I think you missed the point.

    Obama did something. Queerty bitches.

    Got it now?

  • robco

    How about a tax on websites that promote bareback sex? Make those who are trolling for unsafe sex with random strangers pay up. Likewise any who are HIV+ and know their status, but are still barebacking. We tax cigarettes and booze to pay for heath care, seems only fair.

  • Sidney

    So let me see if I get this correct Queerty…

    …you would rather the $30 million NOT be added to the strategy.

    Cause if the option is added to the fight against AIDS or not…guess what…the only LOGICAL choice is to have it added.

    But you seem to dead set on finding something to bitch about.

    If he had added $50 billion you would say, “UGH! Why isn’t he giving more! HE HATES GAY PEOPLE”


  • Enron

    I hope this is at least enlightening to those young and old who are interested in getting into risky behavior. Of course, everyone needs love and affection, but the safest sex, is no sex. Let’s be real though, if you can avoid being infected, just take that bit of time to stick with one partner, use a condom if you can’t handle the urge, get to know who you are being intimate with. If a Government is this cheap when it comes to funding, it should be a wake up call to persons out there saying, “no worry if I catch it, I will just free load of the Governments HIV/AIDS program”.

    Its irresponsible and stupid. Governments around the world really need to reach out to the 13 to 30 year olds, they are really the ones who are getting so risky these days. Your mind in that age range is very care free, on top of the world, nothing can happen to me attitude. Another thing, gay men need to be specifically targeted, a lot of our thinking is different from a straight man when it comes to sexuality. I just don’t understand how you can really let someone penetrate you or you penetrate them without considering the risk especially the long term consequences. Is 10 mins of pleasure really worth taking 30 pills per day, facial wasting, night sweats, diarrhea, crix belly, that weird blush look you see on some HIV men?

    I think the side effects of HIV Drugs and the virus is what the Government needs to get a lot into too informing about. Show it to students, gay and straight, educate boys, put up billboards in well known cruising areas, gay clubs. Yes, its gonna hurt some feelings, but you gotta let people know the ‘reality’ that having HIV stinks. You need to stop putting your life and others at risk.

    I was reading a bareback blog, and the cavalier attitude of the author was just unbelievable. “Yeah, I was there in the 80’s saw a lot of friends die. That doesn’t happen so much anymore and I am sick of the being safe attitude, the drugs are there, HIV is not a death sentence anymore”.

    That’s the attitude that’s out there. I remember reading another guys personal story about why he prefers to bareback. “The condom felt uncomfortable and ice cold, but the feel of skin was so amazing”.

    These blogs even have videos of bareback parties at Folsom, where breeding sessions happen, where you get charged by a poz guy or seeded by one.

    The worst part is, they make it sound really good and tempting. And that’s the reality of whats happening out there, its out there on the Internet with a large fan base. These are grown men, who have a mind, can think for themselves and they are getting into this risky behavior.

  • hyhybt

    Likewise [tax] any who are HIV+ and know their status, but are still barebacking.

    …and now you’ve given people financial incentive, at least short-term, not to find out their status. Good going.

  • Clint

    I don’t claim to know much about this subject. But when the government is broke and they’re giving MORE money to fight AIDS, sounds pretty good to me. I’ll take it over cutting funds any day.

  • B

    No. 4 · Yet Another wrote, “@B: I think you missed the point. Obama did something. Queerty bitches. Got it now?”

    … nothing for me to get – what I was pointing out was that QUEERTY’s bitching was “mathematically challenged” (to use a PC term).

  • reason

    The government is running record deficits trying to keep this country afloat and squeezed out another 23 million. People should be kissing the gov. feet.

    The money there sending to Africa does not bother me at all accounting from the amount of resources that we have stolen from that continent which pales in comparison to some of the European powers. Add to the fact if you have any idea regarding some of the areas down there the sex education is terrible and a lot of people don’t even know how HIV is transmitted , add the inability to test blood supplies then the numbers start to make sense. Imagine if everyone that went in for surgery or a blood transfusion in the United States was at significant risk of catching HIV, what would the rates be here.

    Unlike those places, we have sex education here and mass media that has made everyone aware of how HIV is transmitted. Our blood supply is safe, and someone catching HIV from a medical procedure is nearly non existent. Some people are involved in unfortunate circumstances, most are not. The majority of the new cases over the last few decades stem from negligence and bad decisions. Then people expect the government to keep borrowing from China to support their irresponsible behavior. The thing that ticks me off is the fact that risky behavior had declined when HIV was killing lots of people and the drugs were not doing much about it, but when the drugs advanced and people started living longer, risky behavior rapidly increased. So the question becomes why should the government be going bankrupt to try to save the lives of people that are working so hard to destroy their own? The government should start cutting subsidies for HIV drugs especially for the newly infected; when people start dying left and right maybe people will start acting right again. Why pay to keep some people alive that are out there infecting others while taking the government medication? If I was in charge I would start channeling the money away from drugs subsidies and towards research, education, and free HIV testing sites. Then when people were meeting new partners they could go get tested before forming a committed relationship. The promiscuous people out there know the risk, so they should not be bailed out by the gov., after all even if there was a cure for HIV they will be catching the next thing, and it is not the governments job to be on the hook for there immoral sexual behavior.

  • Chuck


    Quit blaming the victims. So you are basically saying that because anyone can get AIDS in Africa that medication should be free and US funded there, but since mainly gay people an minorities get AIDS here that people should be prevented from life saving medicine as retribution for their sins?

    People like you are responsible for all the evil in the world. Hell was invented for people with twisted logic like that.

  • reason

    @Chuck: Come on now, I am hardly responsible for all the evil in the world. Just frustrated in how many times you have to tell people to clean up their act and they do the same thing with more vigor.

    To reiterate many of my friends that have traveled over to that continent to work on this issue all say that the bulk of the people getting it are not on their own accord. Spending money down there to clean up the blood supply and educate people doesn’t bother me. Our corporations have raked in tons more dollars from the resource rich continent than what we are donating.

    Here people know darn well how this thing is spread after the government has spent untold billions right here in the U.S. In 2005 alone the government spent 19.7 billion 65% toward treatment, 15% toward research, 10% income support, 10% prevention. The amount continued to grow in subsequent years. Part of this thing is about responsibility, the government can’t afford to subsidies continued irresponsibility. They have already done so much to raise awareness and ameliorate the problem so everybody has the ability to drastically curtail their chance of catching this thing. The money would be better spent if they switched the bulk of the cash toward research and cut the overall spending as the economy recovers, the country needs to tighten its belt. I hate to be so harsh, but we need solutions and the way things are going are not working. Were in a self perpetuating cycle of spending to keep people alive that pass on the thing to more people, which requires more spending etc. Some healthy people are chasing the thing by injecting needles and screwing several people a month. If you have a better solution propose it, but at some point you have to say we have given you all that we can. How can you explain risk taking drastically increasing when people started surviving longer? It is sicking, and an indicator that people feel that the government is going to come bail them out with a lifetime of drugs, therefor they can be as risky as they choose on some hard working persons dime. If we find a cure people are going to go wild and catch something else.

  • robco

    It’s not blaming the victims because not everyone is a victim. If people are having unprotected sex with random strangers and contracting STIs, they’re not victims. I’m sorry, but we should know better. Hell, the gay community should be showing other communities how to prevent the spread of HIV, not still remain one of the highest groups for new infections. If people can act irresponsibly but still have their treatment completely paid for while infecting others, that’s not a good thing.

    I feel the same way about smoking. People who started back in 60s and earlier have an excuse. Anyone who starts smoking today knows the health risks – you’d have to been raised by wolves not to. We know how HIV is spread. We know how to protect ourselves. We know how to avoid spreading the disease to others. Other than a lack of will, there’s no reason why we can’t reduce the rate of new infections.

  • Chuck

    God, where do these people come from?

  • Chuck

    Who cares if something is preventable or not. Was the Recession preventable? Yes. Did we spent $700 billion on TARP? Yes. How somebody got AIDS has nothing to do with anything and is not worthy of debate. The point is that meds need to be free or at least affordable. Society can keep them alive, but because profit comes before life in this country, it isn’t happening. That is an outrage.

  • Chuck

    Your argument would say to someone who was shot, ‘oh well, you were in a bad neighborhood, so too bad,’ or your argument would tell a woman, ‘you got raped because a man was stronger than you, well you should have bulked up or bought a gun.’ Why do we give a mortgage subsidy, because it helps some people. Why should AIDS meds be free, because it would help people.

  • red phone

    I’m not a huge fan of Obama’s, but this post shows a misunderstanding of the purpose of the National AIDS Strategy. The govt already spends $19 billion – with a B – on HIV/AIDS domestically every year. Previously, this money was spent without a clear guiding principle or plan for success, much less any unified measurable objectives or an evaluation plan.

    (As a side note: as a condition of PEPFAR, we require other nations to submit a national AIDS strategy of their own before receiving any money from the US, but we have never had one here until now.)

    The purpose then, was to create a strategy that would coordinate and hold accountable all agencies of the govt as well as other sectors of society, so that we are using the $19B – as well as all our human, scientific and intellectual resources – toward a unified, accountable, evidence-based approach to HIV.

    Increased funding is always needed, but having an actual strategy to guide what we are doing in the first place is just as valuable.

  • Brutus

    It’s a recession, ya know.

  • Baxter

    HIV/AIDS doesn’t make the top fifteen causes of death in the U.S., but it gets more research funding than almost all of those fifteen causes, including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, kidney disease, septicemia, liver disease, hypertension, and Parkinson’s. I think the only one that HIV/AIDS doesn’t receive significantly more funding than is cancer.

  • reason

    @Chuck: Your post omission of several important facts is dishonest. The recession is not a valid comparison granted that we are not spending 700 billion dollars a year to bailout reckless companies. We have not been modifying mortgages for the last two decades, nor are we going to do it indefinitely. Go out their and try to get a loan, it has gotten a lot more difficult because the banks are not stupid enough to repeat mistakes of ever so present history. You make a mistake you learn from it and don’t repeat it, but a lot of people contracting HIV in this country know the mistakes that have been made but continue to make them; it’s Einsteins definition of insanity.

    Getting shot in a bad neighborhood or raped are random acts that the victims do not knowingly choose to have happen to them. What your suggesting is that an individual puts two bullets in a revolver in a bad neighborhood spins it put it up to his chest and pulls the trigger, or a women gets naked and hops in the truck of a serial rapist and ask them to give her a ride across the country. Well are people going to be sympathetic when they get rapped or shot. Is the government supposed to pick up the medical bills. It has been said over and over again that when you share needles or sleep with multiple partners especially with out protection you are playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun.

    How someone contracts HIV has everything to do with everything granted knowing how it is transmitted is the most important step in stopping it. The government has given us the knowledge to drastically prevent contraction, use it.

  • Yet Another


    Wow, you’re really reaching with those examples.

  • lfivepoints69

    @robco: Anyone who is positive and has bareback sex should be in prison for murder for life without the possibility of parole. There is no doubt about that.

    HIV testing should be mandatory for all people who visit a doctor (unless they have been tested in the preceding 6 months). Even people who are at no risk should be included, as their wife or husband could be cheating and have become infected.

  • lfivepoints69

    @robco: This also means that anyone who has been overweight should not receive treatment for heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. They chose their condition by being slothful and gluttonous. Certainly anyone who has ever had red meat should not be able to be treated for a heart attack, stroke, or cancer.

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