Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama, McCain Silent On HIV/AIDS Epidemic Facing The Black Community

The HIV/AIDS "plague has long been the single biggest health issue in poor black communities" in the U.S., which is "all the more reason" for presumptive presidential nominees Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to "speak out on the crisis and spell out just what they will do about it," Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author and political analyst, writes in a New America Media opinion piece, adding, "So far they haven't done that." He writes that the candidates "have given countless speeches on the terrorism fight, the Iraq War, the Iran missile threat, immigration, the housing and banking crisis, a tanking economy and affordable health care," which are "crucial problems" facing the U.S. However, "as devastating as these problems are to many families, they do not pile up bodies and wreak catastrophic havoc on entire sectors of the population, mostly poor black communities" like the HIV/AIDS epidemic does, according to Hutchinson.

"HIV/AIDS is not even mentioned as an item in the detailed health care plan on" McCain's official Web site. Obama and his wife publicly took HIV tests last year, and he subsequently offered a pledge to create a national strategy on AIDS. However, he "hasn't publicly addressed the issue since," Hutchinson writes, noting, "In a campaign position paper Obama has said he will push for more funds for AIDS treatment, education and testing. But much of his emphasis has been on African nations." Hutchinson writes that "even if McCain had boned up on the AIDS crisis and laid out a plan to confront the crisis, and Obama had fleshed out more details about confronting the crisis in African-American communities, it's still no substitute for speaking out on the campaign trail about the crisis and pushing government, health agencies and private donors to do more to combat the AIDS plague."

He concludes that both candidates "should break their silence now" (Hutchinson, New America Media, 8/1).

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