New AIDS program puts prevention, care in focus
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama said Tuesday that a new national strategy for combating HIV and AIDS fulfills America’s obligation to stopping the spread of the virus and rooting out the inequities and attitudes on which it thrives.
The strategy sets a goal of reducing new infections by 25 percent over the next five years; getting treatment for 85 percent of patients within three months of their diagnosis; and increasing education about the virus, even in communities with low rates of infection.
“Fighting HIV/AIDS in America and around the world will require more than just fighting the virus,” Obama said at the White House. “It will require a broader effort to make life more just and equitable.”
The administration is allocating $30 million from the massive health care overhaul Congress passed this year toward implementation of the plan.
Although medical breakthroughs have greatly improved quality of life for the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, the U.S. has struggled to lower the rate of new infections. There is a new HIV infection every 9½ minutes in the U.S., and about one of every five people living with HIV doesn’t know it, experts say.
The new strategy sets a goal of reducing new infections by 25 percent in the next five years.
“We’ve been keeping pace when we should be gaining ground,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a separate event unveiling the strategy earlier in the day.
Part of the strategy for lowering new infections relies on targeting HIV prevention efforts at the highest-risk populations, which include gay and bisexual men as well as black Americans, far more than is now done.
That means finding ways to help HIV-negative people stay that way and providing education and treatment for people who are living with HIV to reduce their chances of spreading the virus, said Chris Collins of the Foundation for AIDS Research.
“We’ve never had that kind of coordinated, accountable effort to address AIDS in America, and that’s what we need,” Collins said.