President Obama announces executive order on HIV/AIDS research and care

On Monday, President Obama released an executive order on HIV prevention and care in the US. The order outlines new tasks for the HIV Care Continuum Initiative, updating the White House's 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

The Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, Dr. Grant Colfax, MD, will lead the new effort and head a group (HIV Care Continuum Working Group) with representatives of six federal departments and agencies. This group must review new research and speak with experts, including those who receive federal grants, about how the federal government could better coordinate the effort against the spread of HIV.

"It is the policy of my administration that agencies implementing [the National HIV/AIDS] Strategy prioritize addressing the continuum of HIV care, including by accelerating efforts to increase HIV testing services and treatment along the continuum," the president’s order says. 

Along with the executive order the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius, announced the creation of the "Integrating HIV Prevention and Care Services to Improve HIV Outcomes in Areas of High Unmet Need." This project will endeavor "to expand the capacity of community health centers, local health departments, and their grantees to provide integrated HIV prevention and treatment services across the HIV care continuum"

They also announced several more proposed programs which are listed here.

Obama has spoken on multiple occasions of an "AIDS-free generation." At a reception for LGBT Pride Month in June, he said, "We’ve got to keep pushing.  We’ve got to make access to health care more available and affordable for folks living with HIV."

Hopefully, this executive order will mean real progress in the research of and care around HIV/AIDS. An AIDS-free generation would certainly be a beautiful thing but it is only possible if both the federal government and the general population take active steps towards it.