18 Child. Legal Rts. J. 56 (1998)
Spotlight On: American Foundation for AIDS Research

handle is hein.journals/clrj18 and id is 138 raw text is: Children's Legal Rights Journal
Spotlight On: American Foundation for
AIDS Research

by Nancy Lazar
AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death in chil-
dren under 15 years old. Approximately 20,000
children in the United States are currently living
with HIV, of which over 7,000 have developed
AIDS. Of the 7,000 infants born each year to HIV-
infected women in the United States, 2,000 will
test positive for HIV. These HIV-positive infants
confront the dismal statistics of the typical sur-
vival rate of HIV-infected children. While HIV-
positive adults typically develop AIDS after ten
years, most HIV-infected infants develop AIDS in
merely one year. Ten percent of HIV-infected in-
fants die before their first birthday, and one-third
die by the age of three.
Dr. Arthur Ammann, President of the American
Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), is lead-
ing the fight against HIV infection of children. Am-
FAR is the nation's leading nonprofit organization
committed to the funding of both basic and clinical
biomedical research on HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS pre-
vention, and sensible HIV/AIDS public policy. Al-
though AmFAR does not currently receive any
federal grants and has not received such grants for
the past two years, AmFAR has successfully raised
funds in support of the ongoing battle against the
spread of HIV/AIDS. AmFAR's fundraising suc-
cesses are dedicated primarily to three areas: (1)
Public Policy; (2) Research and Education; and (3)
AmFAR develops HIV/AIDS-related public pol-
icy in such areas as HIV testing, privacy and confi-
dentiality issues, and needle exchange programs.
AmFAR also funnels a significant amount of its
funds to the continuance of HIV/AIDS research and
education. Since the inception of AmFAR in 1985,
AmFAR has provided grants totaling more than
$144 million to over 1,700 research teams nation-
ally and worldwide. In order to educate both the
medical community and the community-at-large,
AmFAR hosts seminars for both health care profes-
sionals to update methods of HIV/AIDS treatment
and the general public to disseminate current in-

formation about HIV/AIDS and prevention
According to Dr. Ammann, the success of
HIV/AIDS research has chang[ed] the face of this
disease in the U.S. The ongoing HIV/AIDS re-
search has decelerated the transformation of HIV
infection into full-blown AIDS, increased the
number of treatment options available to HIV-
infected individuals, and has allowed more HIV-
infected individuals to lead healthy and productive
Nevertheless, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is not go-
ing away. Dr. Ammann believes that there is a cur-
rent American misperception about the status of
HIV/AIDS. He fears that many Americans believe
that HIV/AIDS is under control. However, Dr. Am-
mann stresses that HIV/AIDS is coming under
control, but it is not controlled as yet, nor is it
eradicated. We have not as yet cured a single pa-
Despite the decrease in HIV/AIDS related mor-
tality, the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS
has significantly increased. Consequently, Dr. Am-
mann believes that HIV/AIDS research needs to be
more focused and more aggressive. Specifically, ef-
fective HIV/AIDS treatment will require (1) an in-
crease in funding for HIV/AIDS research, (2)
cost-effective HIV/AIDS treatment, and (3) more
concentrated funding for vaccine research. On
February 3, 1998, Dr. Ammann testified before the
Committee on Appropriation's Subcommittee on
Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and
related agencies in the House of Representatives
and requested a 15% increase in funding for Na-
tional Institute of Health (NIH) research across the
board. A strong NIH is an investment in achiev-
ing the goal of a healthier nation and a healthier
Moreover, the costly drugs of AZT and protease
inhibitors which typically treat HIV-infected indi-
viduals are not easily accessible to those who are
most in need of HIV/AIDS treatment. HIV/AIDS
has a disproportionate impact upon minority

Vol. 18+No. 2+Spring 1998

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