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Press Release

ACT UP to Tom Frieden: You're MIA on HIV

New Infections on the Rise in Key Subpopulations, Despite Options for Prevention

June 9, 2014

Complacent Disease Control Kills

ATLANTA -- The number of new cases of HIV in the U.S. overall has held steady for the past decade at 50,000 per year. But this doesn't mean that the HIV epidemic has steadied. Since 1993, new cases of HIV among gay and bisexual men and transgender women have been on the rise. According to numerous local and national studies, they've spiked. In Atlanta, a recent study shows that 12% of young gay black men are getting HIV every year. Even in the CDC's own backyard, the HIV crisis continues to rage.

Up until recently, preventing sexual transmission of HIV meant one thing: condoms. Today, there are three additional, proven means of HIV prevention:

  • Treatment as Prevention (TasP): Sustaining an undetectable viral load if you have HIV means you are highly unlikely to transmit the disease.
  • Truvada, a pill originally developed for the treatment of HIV, can now be taken once daily as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, to pharmaceutically prevent HIV in negative people at risk.
  • Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP): Taking anti-HIV medications as soon as possible after exposure to HIV can reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive. To be effective, PEP must begin within 72 hours of exposure.

Without real leadership and promotion from U.S. public health officials, these prevention methods will remain underutilized. Without a concerted effort to address the HIV prevention needs of marginalized communities affected by high levels of homelessness, job insecurity, and HIV-related stigma, it will not be feasible or safe for individuals to access the resources they need to protect themselves.


On Monday, June 9th, members of ACT UP NY, along with Treatment Action Group (TAG) and Atlanta allies, will meet with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)'s HIV prevention personnel in Atlanta, GA. ACT UP will call upon the CDC to meet its commitment of keeping all Americans healthy and to act now upon the promise of TasP, PrEP, and PEP, address social and structural barriers to lifesaving prevention options, and reduce the transmission of HIV in those groups where the incidence is rising.

In honor of the groundbreaking "Denver Principles" -- created in 1983 by people with AIDS from around the country to articulate PWA self-empowerment and a human rights-based approach to addressing the epidemic -- ACT UP NY, TAG and Atlanta allies have created the "Atlanta Principles," a series of proposed actions the CDC can take now to radically change and improve the way it currently conducts HIV prevention in the United States. Among them are: sexually frank HIV prevention messaging and education, better promotion and availability of TasP, PrEP and PEP, revised testing guidelines for key populations, more sensitive HIV epidemiology, reform of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS), and ongoing partnership with HIV-affected communities.

ACT UP NY, TAG and Atlanta allies will hold a press conference Tuesday, June 10th, at 10:30 AM at Embassy Suites Atlanta, 267 Marietta Street, Atlanta, GA, in the Marietta Room. To attend, please email Jennifer Avril at

We will only see a drop in the number of new HIV infections after we see significant gains in the numbers of people practicing all methods of HIV prevention. CDC must act now to curb and reduce the rising incidence of HIV transmission in highly impacted communities and ensure that other vulnerable subpopulations such as women and people who inject drugs do not see a rise in transmission.

AIDS is not history until we make it history. ACT UP, FIGHT BACK, FIGHT AIDS!

This article was provided by ACT UP New York.
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