HIV Specialist - March 2021 - 50

ON THE

FRONTLINES

The Power of Advocacy

D

BY: GARY F. SPINNER, PA, MPH, AAHIVS
EMONSTRATING IN WHITE L AB COATS stained with

bloody hands, they laid down in front of the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) building entrance with
signs reading " Dead from FDA red tape. " Described as
rude and irreverent by many, this group of largely LGBTQ activists
were enraged at what they considered genocidal and homophobic
neglect of the HIV epidemic by the government and medical
establishment. Their actions shook the establishment and helped
effect long-lasting policy changes in HIV treatment. The FDA,
feeling pressured, met with them and within months, the policy to
expand access to investigational antiviral drugs was loosened.

Such was the earliest success of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash
Power (ACT UP) in the late 1980 and early 1990s. Their activism
moved policy makers and U.S. agencies to speed up the process of
clinical trials, to implore researchers to study cures for opportunistic
infections, and to move the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to
better represent women and people of color in clinical trials of HIV/
AIDS medications. Their advocacy successfully pushed the Clinton
administration to lift the ban on syringe exchange programs. They
criticized pharmaceutical companies for charging exorbitant prices
for antivirals, and pushed resource rich countries to open HIV treatment to resource poor ones.1
Many HIV specialists in practice today were not in practice in the early
days of the HIV pandemic, and may not be aware of the long tradition of
activism and advocacy in HIV/AIDS care, both within the U.S. and globally.

50 

MARCH 2021   HIVSPECIALIST  WWW.AAHIVM.ORG 

The Power of Advocacy

The power of advocacy to move policy
makers and impact meaningful change
is vital, though oftentimes forgotten. Our
organization, the American Academy of HIV
Medicine (AAHIVM), works hard to advocate
on behalf of our patients and our profession.
But we as healthcare providers should not be
content to have our professional organization
be our sole voice for needed policy change.
The voices of healthcare providers carry
enormous weight when speaking on behalf of
the needs of the patients under our care.

Elimination of Hepatitis C

The 2016 World Health Organization (WHO)
set a goal of elimination of hepatitis C (HCV)
by the year 2030, given the highly effective
curative therapies available.2 However, only
11 high-income countries are on track to
meet that target. Not only is the U.S. not on
track to meet that goal, it ranks last among all
high-income countries to do so, projected to
meet that target in 2050.3

SHUTTERSTOCK/ GRAPHICAR8


http://WWW.AAHIVM.ORG

HIV Specialist - March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HIV Specialist - March 2021

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HIV Specialist - March 2021 - Cover3
HIV Specialist - March 2021 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/hiv-specialist-march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/G121337_AAHIV_122020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/G119632_AAHIV_092020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/G118334_AAHIV_062020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/G116663_AAHIVM_032020
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com