Government Moves to “Act Against AIDS” in the U.S.
April 10, 2009—Officials from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came together on April 7 to announce the launch of Act Against AIDS, a five-year, $45 million national communication campaign aimed at combating the complacency surrounding HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
Dr. Susan Blumenthal
“The campaign will help to issue a wake-up call from the AIDS amnesia that has surrounded the epidemic in America for far too long,” said Dr. Susan Blumenthal, amfAR’s senior policy and medical advisor and former U.S. assistant surgeon general, who attended the White House launch of the initiative.
According to CDC data released in 2008, about 56,300 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year—40 percent more than previously estimated. Every 9½ minutes another person in America becomes infected with HIV, and more than 14,000 people die of AIDS-related causes each year.
“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. “The campaign will 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 and online communications, as well as targeted messages and outreach to African-Americans, men who have sex with men, Latinos, and other disproportionately affected communities.
The first phase of the Act Against AIDS campaign, called “9 ½ Minutes,” will use a series of video, audio, print, and online materials to increase knowledge about the severity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. The website www.NineAndaHalfMinutes.org will provide basic education about HIV/AIDS as well as referrals to HIV prevention and testing services.
To help achieve widespread use of the campaign messages within African-American communities, the Obama administration formed the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a partnership with 14 of the nation’s leading African-American civic organizations, to integrate HIV prevention components into each organization’s outreach programs.
“amfAR has been a strong advocate for the power of prevention in terms of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and this new initiative targeting vulnerable populations is an important step toward reducing the toll the epidemic is taking in the U.S.,” said Dr. Blumenthal.