Monday, October 26, 2009

Remarks Given by Executive Director, Forrest Alton, at the HIV/AIDS Community Discussion

"Good evening, my name is Forrest Alton and I am the Executive Director at the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. I am increasingly concerned about high rates of HIV and unintended pregnancy in our state, especially among young people. For too long prevention strategies in our state and across the nation have been limited and frankly inadequate, in large part because of a view from leadership and decision makers that issues such as HIV and unintended pregnancy are moral issues.

Some of my colleagues would suggest to you that we RE-frame these issues as public health issues – which they are. Tonight, I ask us all including the White House to go one step further and begin thinking about and talking about HIV and unintended pregnancy as urgent social issues. Urgent social issues don’t bring a blind eye, they bring focus and attention; urgent social issues don’t bring arguments, they bring action; urgent social issues don’t bring partisan politics they bring solutions. Moreover, urgent social issues require solutions that are sustainable for the long term.

I certainly commend the Obama administration for hosting this meeting and listening the concerns of Columbia, SC. And, I certainly encourage the Administration to fully support the ideas and suggestions offered by my friends and colleagues this evening – things like fully funding comprehensive sex education for all young people; eliminating ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs; increasing access to condoms and contraception; targeting interventions for high priority youth; conducting outreach on college campuses, etc.

I would, however, add one thought to this dialogue and that is to ensure that the Administration is deliberate about how programs are created and where they are located so that we can ensure that the progress we make on these critical issues over the next eight years – yes, eight, not four – will not be undone by future Administrations.

Thank you for your time.”

All the best,

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