Citing new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that the AIDS epidemic in the United States has been underestimated by 40 percent, former President Bill Clinton said his foundation will direct new attention to the disease at home, particularly among African Americans, the Washington Post reports.
Until now, the William J. Clinton Foundation's HIV/AIDS Initiative has focused its efforts overseas, primarily in Africa and the Caribbean. The foundation is credited with helping to negotiate drastically lower prices for antiretroviral therapies and diagnostic tests in a number of countries, including Senegal, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Haiti. During a speech at the International AIDS Conference earlier this week, Clinton said the recent findings should be a wake-up call for Americans. "Even as we fight the epidemic globally, we must focus at home," said Clinton. "And I intend to do so with my foundation."
Data from the CDC show that 70 percent of new HIV diagnoses among teenagers and 65 percent of HIV-infected newborns are African American. According to Clinton, African Americans account for about half of all AIDS cases in the United States, while the HIV prevalence rate among African-American men is three times the overall rate in the country. Phill Wilson, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, said he was heartened that Clinton had spoken out about the crisis at home. "I have been extremely disappointed with the Clinton Foundation, especially with it headquartered in Harlem of all places, that it has been silent on this issue," said Wilson. "I'm very grateful, and it is appropriate that President Clinton is committed to taking this on."