(Brooklyn, NY) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met with 20 representatives of the HIV/AIDS community at her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn today. The meeting was scheduled as a result of sustained political pressure from AIDS activists on Secretary Clinton and other presidential candidates. Activists presented a policy document that, among other key recommendations, asks every candidate commit to increasing U.S. funding in the global AIDS response by $2 billion by 2020. This commitment would double the number of people on treatment directly supported by the U.S. as part of a global plan to treat over 30 million people by 2020.
During the meeting, Secretary Clinton did not commit to these targets. However, after she was challenged by advocates, she promised to release treatment and funding targets for global AIDS programs. Activists have asked Clinton to release these targets within 30 days.
“It is crucial that the next president of the United States increases the momentum in the global AIDS effort by increasing funding,” said Hilary McQuie, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Health Global Access Project. “We are at a crossroads in the AIDS response. If we scale up access to treatment and prevention programs within the next five years, we will curb the spread of HIV and see the end of the pandemic as we know it by 2030. If we choose to continue business as usual, we will see rising infection rates and millions more preventable deaths in the coming decades.”
Delegates in the meeting also raised concerns about pharmaceutical prices and global access to medicines. Trade deals and intellectual property law have posed an immense threat to access to affordable generic medications in low and middle-income countries. Activists requested that Secretary Clinton commit to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and any other trade agreements which will restrict access to medicines, while also stopping U.S. pressure on India to change the patent laws which allow it to produce generic medications.
In response, Secretary Clinton reaffirmed her opposition to the TPP particularly on the grounds of its intellectual property provisions regarding pharmaceuticals. She also stated her support for India to produce and distribute generic medications.
Secretary Clinton is the first presidential candidate in this election cycle to meet with AIDS advocates. Senator Bernie Sanders had scheduled a meeting with the coalition, but has since indefinitely postponed the discussion. Donald Trump’s campaign staff has stated that they will schedule a meeting when they have a policy staff.