Keeping AIDS in the Headlines


*This post was originally published on POZ.

In the days leading up to the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) in Washington, DC — where thousands of stakeholders will gather to focus on the plan to end HIV in America — it’s worth considering how we can better leverage the media to raise awareness, ensure the facts are presented accurately, provide access to critical information, and hold our national leaders to account.

That last point is particularly important. In his 2019 State of the Union address, President Trump announced a new federal plan to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. To achieve that goal, the epidemic must be front and center in the national consciousness. At the moment, I am not sure that is the case. How often, for example, do we see HIV and AIDS in the media headlines? How can we ensure that, in today’s rapid-fire news cycle, the HIV epidemic has sufficient media “air time”?

Despite his words, the president’s actions run counter to the needs of those most impacted by HIV and AIDS; the populations most vulnerable to continued oppression, stigma, and structural barriers to treatment and prevention. Those of us who know how far we really are from that 2030 deadline can play a pivotal role in speaking truth to power and to informing the electorate of the challenges that lay ahead of us. The media is a critical tool that we can use to shine a spotlight on the issues, geographies, and, most importantly, people at the center of the epidemic.

There is another critical factor to consider: where attention goes, resources flow. My organization, Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) tracks philanthropic funding for HIV and AIDS. The generous contributions of private philanthropy have helped drive incredible progress, both in the United States and around the world. Greater attention in the media, however, would help pave the way for this sector — as well as government appropriators — to build a case for continued and increased resources, and ensure grantmakers understand how the current HIV epidemic impacts their funding priorities and communities.

Read the full article here.