Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Congratulations on leading us to put our “hands on the arc of history and bend it, once more, toward the hope of a better day.” Your election as President of the United States on November 4, 2008, was a magical moment many of us only dreamed was possible, as we continue to work hard on matters of great urgency, like conquering HIV/AIDS.

We believe deeply in the “new spirit of patriotism” you have summoned; of “service & responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and word harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.” That’s the spirit that drives us each day in the work we do.

We put our faith in your word, given 6 weeks ago to the United States Conference on AIDS, when you expressed your “commitment to developing a National AIDS Strategy to decrease new HIV infections and improve health outcomes for Americans living with HIV/AIDS.” We applauded then, as we do now, your call for a comprehensive approach, for “aggressive federal actions, including investments that are matched with State & Local initiatives. . .preventing the spread of HIV, getting people into treatment, and expanding access to testing and comprehensive education programs.”

Those goals are the essence of Cable Positive’s mission, as is the equally important one of overcoming the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS—a stigma, which you have said, “is too often tied to homophobia.” You boldly stood that stigma on its head, when you and Michelle took HIV tests on a trip to Kenya.

Now, we need you to break still more barriers. We need you to act as the passionate Editor-in-Chief of Poz Magazine Regan Hofman has urged you to act—to move swiftly to develop and implement a National AIDS Strategy, as HIV/AIDS rages out of control in many communities of color, which, if located in communities in Africa instead of America, would be eligible for PEPFAR funding to fight the disease.

Establishing America’s first-ever National AIDS Strategy need not have any fiscal implication in the initial phase of creating it, and making it as powerful a creed as “Yes, we can.” We want you to apply the same focus, intelligence and organizational follow-through on defeating HIV/AIDS, as you did on winning the White House, and earning, as you eloquently expressed, “the chance for us to make that change.”

We know that eradicating AIDS will not happen overnight. Many of us have been foot soldiers in this war against this disease for more than two decades. We agreed with you, when you summoned the inspiration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stating that “we may not get there in one year, or even one term.” But we, too, are hopeful that we will get there. Working with you, we are ready for the enormity of the task that lies ahead.


Steve Villano

President/CEO, Cable Positive

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