Hi Everyone!

My name is Melanie and I am the new Reproductive Health Associate here at Americans for Informed Democracy.img_4409

Yesterday, over a thousand people (myself included) came together in Washington D.C. to hold President-elect Obama accountable to the promises he made to improve U.S. HIV/AIDS policies and programs both domestically and abroad. The election of Barack Obama is, for many HIV/AIDS activists, a light at the end of a grim tunnel that saw the Bush administration ignoring the needs of Americans living with HIV/AIDS and disseminating prevention programs to countries abroad that focused more on ideological beliefs than on best public health practices.

Over the past year, Obama has stated that he would create a national strategy to prevent HIV/AIDS and make care, treatment and housing a priority for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Obama has also committed to the removal of funding restrictions on needle exchange programs and PEPFAR prevention policies.

Despite the promises made along the campaign trail, we cannot afford to let our guard down and hope for the best. In fact, now, more than ever before, we need to make sure our voices are heard and that we mobilize to advance U.S. HIV/AIDS policies. The political capital of a new and popular President combined with Obama’s progressive stances on HIV/AIDS issues opens a large window for improvement.

Of course there are several special interest groups that would like Obama to focus on their cause, but yesterday’s rally was the FIRST to demonstrate in front of the Obama transition team’s office. The ingenuity of the AIDS advocacy community to reach out to the President-elect so early in the game proved to be a success and a member of the Obama transition team was gracious enough to come out and address the concerns of the crowd.

Overall, the World AIDS Day rally was the most hopeful demonstration I have ever attended; people were genuinely excited by the prospects of what the new Administration can accomplish in the fight against AIDS. But for this to happen, we need to continue to make our voices heard loud and clear.