President-elect Obama commemorates 20th Annual World AIDS Day

We've come a long way from the "ignorance and fear" that once defined the world's reaction to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, President-elect Obama says in a video message and statement released today to mark the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. But he also points out that we still have a long way to go to defeat HIV/AIDS, both here in the United States and globally.

"[I]n the end this epidemic can’t be stopped by government alone, and money alone is not the answer either," he said. "All of us must do our part."

Watch the video and read the official statement from the Obama-Biden Transition Team below.

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Official statement from the Obama-Biden Transition Team
to mark the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day
December 1st, 2008

World AIDS Day is a day of both commemoration and promise for the many millions of people around the world who are affected by HIV/AIDS. This year’s theme, Leadership, is a particular reminder to me that World AIDS Day cannot be confined to a single day of the year. For that reason, I have committed my administration to developing and implementing a comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce HIV infections, increase access to treatment and care and reduce HIV/AIDS-related health disparities.

Today, the United States faces an alarming rate of HIV/AIDS infections. Through the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we will set a series of goals to prevent and reduce HIV/AIDS infections and improve treatment throughout the United States, particularly among communities of color which have been disproportionately affected. I will ensure that the federal government is accountable for achieving these goals.

Too many people are unaware that while HIV/AIDS is incurable, it is 100 percent preventable. And far too many people have become infected because they lack basic information about how this disease is spread. I intend to confront the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS – a stigma which is too often tied to racism, sexism and homophobia. That is what Michelle and I tried to do by taking a public HIV test in Kenya a few years ago.

We must engage in honest, open dialogue and reach out to those most at risk. My administration will educate people about HIV/AIDS, ensure people living with HIV/AIDS have access to treatment, and work with Congress to enact an extensive program of prevention, including access to comprehensive age-appropriate sex education for all school age children.

We will also keep faith with the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS around the world by continuing to support the work of the Global AIDS Fund and maintaining our strong leadership through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief.

And after a year of important work to end HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day 2009 will offer an opportunity for us to take measure of the progress we have made.

Finally, to all those living with HIV/AIDS in the United States and throughout the world, their families and partners and caregivers, know that I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers today and throughout the coming year.

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