Today, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) released the administration’s revised National HIV and AIDS Strategy for the United States. This update to the initial strategy, released in 2010, provides a framework for the federal government to dramatically reduce HIV transmission and better support people living with HIV and their families through 2020. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organisation, praised the Administration for updating its roadmap addressing the multi-decade epidemic and urged Congress to provide sustained funding for the life of the strategy.
“The revisions to this critical national strategy come at a crucial time in the fight to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic,” said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “While HIV affects Americans from all walks of life, gay and bisexual men, transgender women, youth, and communities of colour are disproportionately affected, particularly in the South. Achieving an AIDS-free generation is within our grasp, and Congress must ensure the Obama Administration has the vital resources it needs to meet the strategy’s achievable goals.”
The revised strategy was released at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and was updated based on input from diverse communities, including LGBT people and allies at town hall meetings in Boston, Massachusetts; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Oakland, California. HRC submitted comments and recommendations to update the strategy.
The updated strategy emphasises the need for HIV awareness and education to be incorporated into all educational settings, as well as health and wellness initiatives. It also highlights the need for health and wellness practitioners to be educated about HIV, a critical step in reducing HIV-related stigma and discrimination. And that such efforts incorporate culturally-appropriate information inclusive of LGBT people.
The top priorities through 2020 include:
- 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.
ONAP will work in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a Federal Action Plan with detailed steps to implement the updated priorities. HRC will continue to engage the Administration during this critical process.