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The national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL | 8/10/2015, 10:01 a.m.
More than three decades after the United States began seeing the first cases of HIV, it has made enormous progress ...
Sylvia Mathews Burwell HHS

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

More than three decades after the United States began seeing the first cases of HIV, it has made enormous progress against a formidable illness, but there’s still work ahead.

In 2010, President Obama tasked the White House Office of National AIDS Policy to develop the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. For the past five years, the Strategy has charted a path for fighting HIV in the U.S. But as our scientific understanding and policy opportunities change, our plan must adapt.

That’s why last week, the White House released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020.

This update incorporates work from the HIV Care Continuum Initiative and recommendations by the president’s Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities. The updated strategy will sharpen its focus over the next five years to deliver effective, evidence-based services that help prevent and treat HIV, particularly in communities where HIV is most concentrated.

The Department of Health and Human Services is committed to transforming our health care system into one that delivers better care, spends our health care dollars more wisely, and puts educated, empowered patients in the center of their care. That’s what it focused on doing for people living with HIV.

First, to deliver better care to people living with HIV and to prevent further transmission, we’re committed to:

• Widespread testing and linking people to care and treatment.

• Broad support for people living with HIV to engage – and remain – in care.

• Universal viral suppression among people living with HIV, to ensure they have and keep low levels of the virus in their body and reduce the chance of passing HIV to others.

• Full access to pre-exposure prophylaxis services, which support people at high risk for HIV by reducing the likelihood of HIV infection with daily medication.

Second, as investments focus on quality health care, HHS will target resources toward HIV prevention, testing and treatment interventions that have a proven record of success. This means spending federal dollars wisely by evaluating outcomes and allocating resources to approaches that work. And as we work to improve health outcomes and find a cure, we will support ongoing research to open up new prevention and treatment options.

Finally, as the organization helps patients and their communities stay healthy, it will focus on key populations most at risk for and disproportionately affected by HIV. It aim is to lower the rates of HIV among many high-risk populations, improve outcomes for people seeking care and address the stigma that is still too often associated with HIV. This means focusing on key populations that are disproportionately impacted by this disease.

The goal is a day where the president’s vision of an AIDS-free generation has come true, and the HIV epidemic itself is a distant memory confined to our history. With this crucial update to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and by working together to find common ground across sectors and states, researchers are getting closer to that day.