“I’ve been a Type 1 diabetic since I was 12, so 31 years; and HIV positive for 20 years this March. I’ve been able to maintain good health, keep my viral load down, my t-cells up, which has allowed me to do the work I do.” – Michael Kaplan, President & CEO of AIDS United
It has been over thirty years since the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and thanks to incredible advancements in science, a diagnosis once tantamount to a death sentence is today managed in much the same way as a chronic disease. Great strides have been made in reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS, but this is a war still in progress.
A leading advocate for HIV/AIDS patients, policy, and research, Michael Kaplan is the president and CEO of AIDS United. Born out of the merger of the National AIDS Fund and AIDS Action in late 2010, AIDS United’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States by combining strategic grantmaking and capacity-building with national advocacy to ensure access to life-saving HIV/AIDS therapies and services, and advance key policy initiatives.
Kaplan advocates for early testing and treatment as a way to dramatically decrease the number of new HIV/AIDS cases and help those already infected to start managing their illness as soon as possible. Like many currently incurable diseases, access to treatment is crucial. NIH research shows that the right drug cocktail can reduce a person’s ability to spread the virus to another by up to 96 percent.
Medical research discoveries from several fields have helped create many of the current medications HIV/AIDS patients depends upon today. Just as in the past, “fundamental basic research that is being done now is going to lead to things ten or fifteen years from now that we cannot predict,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci at a FasterCures' 2012 Celebration of Science event.
But with funding for research across all diseases at risk because of sequestration – looming, across-the-board budget cuts – support for the work of advocates like Michael and the science he helps to advance is more important than ever. Saving time in medical research means saving lives.
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-- Back to Basics: HIV/AIDS Advocacy as a Model for Catalyzing Change