Statement from Dawn Averitt Bridge on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy
Today President Obama is releasing the long-anticipated National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). Why is this a big deal? Well, for several reasons. First, we've never had one! That's right, the United States has never had a national AIDS strategy of our own, even though we require other countries that receive support from the US to fight AIDS to have one. Second, the process to develop a NHAS has been a monumental effort spearheaded by a coalition of AIDS activists and community-based organizations (with many of us in the community signing on) over the past several years (long before President Obama was even elected). And, perhaps most importantly, the NHAS provides a framework for us -- all of us -- to work together to turn the tide of the AIDS epidemic here in the US as well as to improve the lives and care of people living with HIV. There has been a great deal of anticipation waiting for this day. We all have things we hope the NHAS will be or will mean. Ultimately, this is a strategy. It will most likely give us priorities, goals and targets. It will most likely not give us every specific action needed or tell us how this war -- the war on AIDS -- will be won. We still have work to do! I hope that today as this historic document is released, we -- the HIV/AIDS community and our allies -- will celebrate this milestone achievement, embrace this opportunity and step forward with the things that we can do to make the implementation of this document work. This means that every segment of our society should be asked and encouraged to step forward with the part they are willing to take on. We all have a role to play! I would like to congratulate my friends and colleagues who have worked so hard to make this a reality. This is more evidence that we can have a powerful impact if we work together. On behalf of The Well Project and the women we are priviliged to serve, thank you for your commitment to this fight. To all of our friends, allies and stakeholders, please join us in embracing this release as a new beginning in the fight against HIV and AIDS. I challenge you all to find a piece you can work on, to help make progress for us all a reality! In the words of Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
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