Democrat presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled his plan to fight HIV/AIDS this morning. While his primary opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has had a similar plan of her own for months now, a recent gaffe lauding Nancy Reagan for her non-existent work to help people with HIV has given Sanders an opportunity to continue the controversy.
While Clinton apologized and said she “misspoke” about the Reagan’s horrid history with the disease, her history of working on HIV/AIDS is commendable; she has been a regular advocate for increased funding and better health policies. Sanders’ plan includes some of the same plans, but also goes a step further by advocating for a “prize” for drug companies who develop HIV medications instead of rewarding them with patents that keep the medication’s costs high.
Other highlights of Sanders plan include expanding mental health and substance abuse services, increasing funding for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and PEPFAR, ending trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would increase the cost of generic medications worldwide, and expanding civil rights protections for LGBTQ people.
Sanders’ full plan is below as published on his website.
Working to Create an AIDS and HIV-Free Generation
Today, one of the biggest problems in caring for the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV is the crisis of access to affordable drugs.
One of the great moral issues of our day is that people with HIV and AIDS are suffering and, in some cases, dying in America because they can’t afford to pay the outrageous prices being charged for the medicine they need to live.
It is indefensible that even with insurance and rebates, a person with HIV must spend thousands of dollars per year just on prescription drugs — often leaving them unable to afford decent housing or other necessities — all while profiteering companies continue to jack up the price of these treatments overnight, simply because they can.
Instead of focusing on public health and the public good, drug companies are focused on padding the pockets of their shareholders and top executives. That has got to change.
In the richest nation in the world, we must not tolerate a health care system that offers the best care to the rich, while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. We must do everything possible to end the greed of the pharmaceutical companies and get people the medicine they need at a price they can afford.