Big Names Call for More AIDS Funds

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Another key to solving the AIDS problem is knocking down barriers to access, particularly when it comes to poorer populations that cannot afford expensive therapies.

Consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen today released a statement contending that the Obama administration's current negotiations around a "Trans-Pacific Partnership" free trade agreement are an obstacle to an AIDS-Free generation. They maintain that such a partnership would expand pharmaceutical monopoly power, and thereby maintain the high costs of HIV medications.

But what is truly needed, some say, is a greater effort to foster education and acceptance of those whose lives are affected by the pandemic. In a way, the return of the International AIDS Conference to the United States is a sobering reminder of the domestic epidemic, and particular its effect on the African American community.

"In the richest nation on the planet, barely a quarter of the people with HIV are on fully-effective treatment," according to Phil Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. "Almost six in every 10 Black gay men in America will be HIV-positive by their 40th birthday."

Turning the tide, it appears, will take more than research and money, but a new mindset as well.

"The AIDS epidemic is not fueled by the virus," musician Elton John told the audience in a speech later in the day. "It is fueled by ignorance and hate.

"Everyone deserves compassion... Everyone deserves dignity... Everyone deserves love."

Dr. Liza A. McClellan and Dr. Andrew Myers contributed to this report.

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