WASHINGTON — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency will happily move forward on the administration’s new initiative to eliminate HIV/AIDS, while stressing that tools within CDC reach “must be applied now” for maximum impact.
In his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, President Trump lauded “remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” noting that “scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach.”
“My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years,” he said. “We have made incredible strides, incredible. Together we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond.”
Without citing a budget number, the White House on Tuesday also cited the success of President Bush’s PEPFAR program, without specifically naming it, as “saving the lives of 17 million people around the globe in just 15 years.”
On December’s World AIDS Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “the pace of progress is not matching global ambition” as “new HIV infections are not falling rapidly enough.”
Eighty adolescents will die from AIDS each day by the year 2030 if efforts to prevent transmission aren’t sharply accelerated, the United Nations Children’s Fund projected. About a third of new HIV infections happen in people 15 to 25 years old, according to the World Health Organization. Worldwide, three million people 19 years old or younger are infected with HIV.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have contracted HIV and half of those have died. About 37 million people around the world live with HIV today, and 22 million of those are receiving treatment.
In 2017, 38,739 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States and its territories. More than a million Americans live with HIV, and 15 percent don’t know they’re infected.
CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said today that he’s “excited that CDC is part of this unprecedented opportunity to end the HIV epidemic in America.”
“The administration’s plan will deploy the people and key prevention and treatment strategies needed to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent over the next 5 years, with the hope of a 90 percent reduction within 10 years,” Redfield said.
“We have the tools to end new HIV infections in this nation, but they must be applied now,” he added. “The most recent data suggest that progress in reducing new infections has plateaued, and many communities remain vulnerable to HIV infection.”
Redfield said the proposed initiative will focus on “four key strategies to meet the needs of communities with the highest HIV burden: diagnose new HIV infections; treat those with infection rapidly and effectively; protect people from being infected through access to comprehensive prevention and treatment, including medications that can prevent infection; and respond quickly to and stop new outbreaks.”
“To accomplish this, we will accelerate our work with state and local health departments,” he said. “We will establish HIV elimination teams — for ‘boots-on-the-ground’ support — to ensure communities with the greatest burden make progress. We will listen to people living with HIV, and to public health partners in the most-affected communities, so we reach those in greatest need.”
Redfield concluded that “the time to end the HIV epidemic is now.”