White House Updates the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

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By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly

Late last week the White House released an update the 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy. While it keeps the four objectives set in 2010 (reducing infections, increasing access to care, reducing disparities in health care, and coordinating a national response), this update includes four priorities to achieve these goals:

  • Widespread HIV testing and linkage to care, enabling people living with HIV to access treatment early.
  • Broad support for people living with HIV to remain engaged in comprehensive care, including support for treatment adherence.
  • Universal viral suppression among people living with HIV, since it benefits their health and reduces transmission of the virus to others.
  • Full access to comprehensive pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) services for those whom it is appropriate and desired, with support for medication adherence for those using PrEP. As one of the tools in the HIV-prevention toolkit, PrEP is a way for people who don’t have HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day.

These are concrete steps to achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The first three are kinda no-brainers; increased access to testing means earlier access to treatment, and keeping people with HIV in treatment helps keep them healthy and prevent the spread of HIV. You may recall that HIV infections are actually rising in the United States and testing rates for MSM (men who have sex with men) under 35 are low. The fourth is interesting because it shows the White House is paying attention to the science around HIV prevention. Last year the CDC advocated for populations who are at risk of contracting HIV to use PrEP.

The Strategy also acknowledges that HIV does not affect all segments of the population equally and hopes to prioritize:

  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men of all races and ethnicities, noting the particularly high burden of HIV among Black gay and bisexual men
  • Black women and men
  • Latinos and Latinas
  • People who inject drugs
  • Youth aged 13 to 24 years, noting the particularly high burden of HIV among young Black gay and bisexual men
  • People in the Southern United States
  • Transgender women, noting the particularly high burden of HIV among Black transgender women

The strategy also gives itself measurable outcomes for its 2020 goal.

You can read the whole report here.