The New Jersey Women and AIDS Network (NJWAN) commends the White House for releasing the nation’s first domestic HIV strategy and looks forward to the implementation of a plan that improves the care of people living with HIV/AIDS as well as reduces the rate of new infections.
The strategy is made up of three basic goals:
Goal 1: reduce new HIV infections by 25%- Many have criticized that this goal is not nearly enough. However NJWAN recognizes that there are many human elements at play, and that 25% may be a realistic starting place.
Goal 2: Increase access to care- NJWAN sees the President’s goal of increasing access to care as an essential component in improving the quality of life of our consumers. Hopefully, President Obama’s recognition of HIV as a US epidemic will influence a change in Gov. Christie’s current budget decisions that will leave over 950 HIV positive individuals without access to the medications that currently support their life through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.
Goal 3: Reduce Health disparities- NJWAN commends the President for acknowledging HIV Stigma as a key opponent in the fight against saving the lives of NJ’s women. NJWAN has long acknowledges stigma to be a factor worth addressing and is currently studying the effects of stigma and disclosure on women.
Along with this strategy plan, President Obama has devised an implementation plan in which he charges that the job “does not fall to the Federal Government alone, nor should it.” The success of this plan is also hinged on the cooperation of United States society at large. We must all get involved.
In order for such goals to reach fruition, NJ must find the resources to successfully fund such a strategy. NJWAN appreciates President Obama’s leadership and its commitment to address the disparate rate that HIV is infecting families and communities but is concerned about the lack of available resources to carry out the proposed plan. Without adequate financial support, grassroots organizers will meet on-going challenges in an attempt to meet the goals.If the new strategy is going to work it must address the needs of women and the social justice issues that intersect with HIV risk associated behaviors, like poverty, homelessness and discrimination. Prevention and treatment programs must take into account the dynamics of gender and power in our society and how that shapes women’s lives and health behaviors. Without understanding and addressing the social backdrop of HIV in the lives of women, the rate of infection in the women of NJ will continue to grow and our state will continue to have the highest proportion of women living with HIV of all 50 states. NJWAN remains hopeful that this plan will be an success and looks forward to doing its part in the National HIV/ AIDS Strategy to ensure its success.