Obama announces $100 million initiative to find a cure for HIV

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President Barack Obama has announced a $100 million (£61.3m) funding initiative by the US National Institutes of Health to find a cure for HIV.

“The United States should be at the forefront of the discoveries how to put HIV in long-term remission without requiring lifelong therapies. Or, better yet, eliminate it completely,” President Obama said yesterday.

He went on to say: “We will stand with you through every step of this journey until we reach the day possible when all men and women can protect themselves from infection, a day when all people with HIV infection have access to treatment to save their lives. The day when no babies born with HIV and AIDS and achieve what once was hard to imagine, an HIV-free generation.

“That’s the world I want for my daughters, that’s what we want for our families,” he said. “If we stay focused and honour the memories of those that we’ve lost, if we summon the same courage they displayed by insist on-going whatever it takes however long it takes, I believe we’re going to win this fight. I’m confident that we’ll do so together.”

He reflected on the changes, saying that when HIV first appeared on a global scale, people knew very little about it and that, “what we did know was the devastation that it inflicted, striking down vibrant men and women in the prime of their lives, and spreading from city to city and country to country seemingly overnight.”

President Obama said: “The disease that was once a death sentence now comes with a good chance of a healthy and productive life.”

Mr Obama also listed several successful HIV policies implemented under his administration, including recently signed legislation that he said would allow “research into organ donations between people with HIV.”

He also said that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, “millions of insured Americans will be able to get tested free of charge.”

“Americans who were uninsured will now be able to have access to affordable health care coverage, and beginning in January, no American will be again denied health insurance because of their HIV status,” he added.

Speaking a day after Sunday’s World AIDS Day, Mr Obama paid tribute to all of those who have died as a result of the epidemic.

He said: “This is a time for remembering the friends and loved ones that we have lost, celebrating the extraordinary progress thanks to some people in this room that we have been able to make, and, most importantly, recommitting ourselves to the mission that we share, which is achieving an AIDS-free generation.”

Writing for PinkNews on World AIDS Day, Will Harris from Terrence Higgins Trust warned that scientists are still a long way from finding a workable cure for HIV.