TV Ad on the AIDS Issue: Michael Weinbstein and AHF to President Obama: Whose Side Are You On?

As part of its ongoing advocacy effort to spur President Obama and his administration to address the growing national AIDS drug crisis, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is rolling out a new national television ad campaign headlined ‘President Obama: Whose Side Are You On?’

“Since AIDS treatment can also reduce the transmission of new HIV infections by as much as 96%, the President’s inaction on this issue is also hurting efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.”

AHF’s ad criticizes the President for his inaction on AIDS, particularly for the fact that since his presidency began patient waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) have ballooned from less than 100 people in 2008, to nearly 10,000 patients in eleven states. The ad directs viewers to www.changeAIDSobama.org where they can learn more and follow the Foundation’s call to action to send an eletter to the President.

The 30-second television is scheduled to run on CNN in several markets nationwide, including in Florida (the Miami-Dade market)—the state with the most severe AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting list crisis with over 4,022 AIDS patients currently on its waiting list. The television spot will also run on CNN in Washington, DC and in Columbus, Ohio, a state that has also been struggling with ADAP.

The ad opens with a video clip of the President speaking on July 13, 2010 about the National AIDS Strategy. Obama states: “We’re here because we believe in an America where those living with HIV/AIDS are not viewed with suspicion but treated with respect – where they’re provided with the medications and healthcare.”

“Though the President has spoken eloquently about AIDS issues at certain moments, his words have been pretty, but empty. His inspiring speeches do nothing to help the nearly 10,000 Americans living with HIV/AIDS waiting for lifesaving medications,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Since AIDS treatment can also reduce the transmission of new HIV infections by as much as 96%, the President’s inaction on this issue is also hurting efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.”

He added: “So, we ask you, Mr. President, if you are not on the side of people living with HIV/AIDS, then whose side are you on?”

ADAP is a federal/state funded, state run network of programs that supply lifesaving AIDS drugs to low-income Americans in need. Nationwide, ADAPs serve over 165,000 people, accounting for one third of people on AIDS treatment in the U.S. Approximately 80% of those on ADAP waiting lists reside in the South, meaning the crisis disproportionately impacts communities of color.

As of September 1, there are 9,298 people on waiting lists in eleven states, according to ADAP Watch, published regularly by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). The total number of people on that have either been dropped from the program, been place on a waiting list or are unable to enroll due to lowered eligibility is at least 10,024. The breakdown is as follow:

* 9,298 on waiting lists (as reported by NASTAD)
* 445 people dropped (also reported by NASTAD)
* 281 people unable to enroll because of lowered eligibility (This figure is likely higher because AHF’s estimate is based on enrollment figures from FY2009, the most recent full-year data available)

AHF’s campaign has been ongoing. This past July, the organization created and ran online text and banner ads on Politico.com’s ‘Playbook’ page targeting Obama on his inaction on AIDS. In addition, a 30-second ‘What has the President done about AIDS?’ television ad ran on CNN in several markets nationwide, including in Florida (the Miami-Dade market), Washington, DC and in Columbus, Ohio. Rounding out the campaign, AHF also ran ‘What has the President done about AIDS?’ outdoor transit ad in ten bus shelters in Washington, DC surrounding the White House in late July.

To view the ‘President Obama: Who’s Side Are You On?’ television ad, please visit www.changeAIDSobama.org.

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