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Fact Sheet: The Beginning of the End of AIDS

December 1, 2011

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Fighting the Domestic HIV/AIDS Epidemic

In the United States, roughly 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV and about 50,000 become newly infected each year. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 600,000 Americans have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS. The Obama Administration has mounted a comprehensive and aggressive response to refocus our collective efforts to respond to the domestic HIV epidemic:

Creating a Coordinated National Response to the HIV Epidemic

National HIV/AIDS Strategy: The National HIV/AIDS Strategy is the Nation's first comprehensive plan to fight the domestic epidemic. The Strategy provides a roadmap for moving the nation forward in addressing the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic with clear and measurable targets to be achieved by 2015. The development of the NHAS is an important effort to reflect on what is and is not working in order to improve the outcomes that we receive for our public and private investments.

  • The Federal Implementation Plan. In conjunction with the Strategy, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) released the Federal Implementation Plan, which outlines initial critical actions to be taken by Federal agencies in 2010 and 2011.
  • The Agency Operational Plans. Released in February 2011, these plans detail activities and new initiatives across lead federal agencies to implement the Strategy.
  • Ongoing Efforts to Improve Coordination across Government. The Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health was tasked with improving operational coordination across key departments and agencies, including HHS, Housing and Urban Development, Departments of Justice and Labor, the Veterans' Administration, and the Social Security Administration.
  • Engaging Communities. The Obama Administration has taken extraordinary steps to engage the public. While developing the Strategy, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy hosted 14 community discussions across the country and organized a series of expert meetings on HIV-specific topics. This fall ONAP convened five "Dialogues" across the country to support state and local implementation of the Strategy.

Increasing Access to Care

Today, President Obama announced he is directing $50 million in increased funding for domestic HIV/AIDS treatment and care because every American with HIV should have access to the highest quality of care available.

  • Of the $50 million, $15 million will be directed to the Ryan White Part C program for HIV medical clinics across the country, targeting areas with HIV infections have increased and HIV care and treatment services are not readily available. This additional funding will allow services to 7,500 more patients across the country.
  • $35 million in increased funding will go to state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs to support grants to states to help nearly 3,000 individuals with HIV/AIDS access life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs. Currently, there are more than 6,500 Americans with HIV/AIDS who are on waiting lists for lifesaving medications. Earlier this year, there were more than 9,000 people on waiting lists, the Administration negotiated additional funding that enabled States to reduce the size of their waiting lists by nearly one-third.

This is part of the broader effort to ensure all people with HIV get the maximum benefit from the latest treatments:

  • Prioritizing HIV in the Federal Budget. President Obama has continually demonstrated his commitment to implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy by prioritizing HIV in the federal budget, increasing prevention funding every year fiscal year. This included a $30 million increase in FY 2011 at a time when CDC's budget experienced a sharp reduction in total funding. The Administration has also prioritized funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), a component of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. In FY 2011, the ADAP budget totaled $885 million, up from $815 million in FY2009.
  • Increasing Healthcare Options through the Affordable Care Act. People living with HIV have more to gain from the enactment of health reform than nearly any other group. People with HIV have higher rates of uninsurance, they are more likely to face barriers in accessing medical care, and they often experience higher rates of stigma and discrimination than other groups. The Affordable Care Act builds on what works in our current system. It seeks to expand Medicaid for the lowest income people; it strengthens and improves Medicare, and makes private insurance work better for all Americans, including people with HIV. The Affordable Care Act also prohibits discrimination on the basis of HIV status, bans lifetime limits on insurance coverage, and is phasing out annual limits in coverage.
  • Extending the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. In 2009, President Obama signed a four-year reauthorization of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the largest federal program specifically dedicated to providing HIV care and treatment. It funds heavily impacted metropolitan areas, states, and local community-based organizations to provide life-saving medical care, medications, and support services each year to more than half a million people: the uninsured and underinsured, racial and ethnic minorities, people of all ages.

Focusing on Reducing New HIV Infections

  • Testing Makes Us Stronger. More than 200,000 Americans living with HIV don't know it. This week, CDC launched a new initiative -- Testing Makes Us Stronger -- to enable more Americans get tested. If people know they are HIV positive, they can take steps to protect themselves and their partners, and live longer and healthier lives.
  • Shifting Focus to High Impact Prevention. Thirty years into the epidemic, we have a full toolbox of effective HIV prevention interventions. At the same time, not all interventions are equally effective, can be taken to scale, or are appropriate for all populations. CDC has articulated a new vision for its major HIV prevention program with state and local health departments that identifies required activities, and a range of recommended optional activities to optimize impact.
  • Ensuring Resources Follow the Epidemic. As part of HHS's operational plan for 2011, the agency has started tracking how federal funds are allocated on the basis of gender, race, and risk factors to compare and better align with the demographics of the epidemic. This is a new tool for ensuring that resources follow the epidemic. Further, beginning in FY2012, CDC's funding for health departments will be awarded using a formula, based on living HIV/AIDS cases, which gives the most current picture of the HIV epidemic and moves away from counting cumulative cases and only counting AIDS, not HIV cases.

Making Significant Policy Changes

  • Elimination of the HIV Entry Ban. From 1987 to 2010 HIV-positive travelers and immigrants have been banned from entering or traveling through the United States without a special waiver. President Obama lifted this ban in January 2010. The elimination of this ban is a major step in ending the stigma associated with HIV.
  • International AIDS Conference. After the elimination of the HIV entry ban, the Obama Administration worked with the International AIDS Society to announce that the International AIDS Conference will return to the United States (Washington, DC) in July 2012 for the first time in more than 20 years. This will bring more than 25,000 researchers, clinicians, individuals living with HIV, and others to Washington to engage with each other on new research, best practices in the field, and effective policy options at this premier international scientific gathering.
  • Comprehensive Support for Injection Drug Users. In 2009, Congress modified its ban on federal funding for syringe services programs. In 2010, the Obama Administration issued guidance that permits federal domestic and global funds to be used for syringe services programs when they are part of a comprehensive evidence-based intervention to prevent HIV infection and reduce drug use.
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This article was provided by White House.
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