The White House releases new HIV and AIDS strategy

Earlier this morning, the White House released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for The United States: Updated to 2020. This comprehensive strategy guide picks up where the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States left off in 2010, with the hope that we will one day live in an AIDS-free generation.

“It's now been more than three decades since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were diagnosed,” said President Obama in a speech broadcasted through an livestream. “For many Americans the early days were marked by fear and stigma, how little we knew of the disease and by only fighting to be seen and heard, and to be treated with basic compassion. Times have changed.”

According to the report, the White House will focus on four main goals in the next five years:

  • Widespread 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
  • Full access to comprehensive PrEP services for those whom it is appropriate and desired, with support for medication adherence for those using PrEP

In addition, the strategy seeks to embrace new scientific research findings, integrate information about HIV transmission and prevention into education campaigns and prevention programs, and eliminate stigma and discrimination for those that have AIDS in order to improve their health outcomes.

Aside from these main goals, the new strategy also acknowledges the reality that AIDS is a crisis for minorities. According to the CDC, blacks are the racial group most affected by AIDS, accounting for 44% of new HIV infections in 2010, and those in the Southern states make up half of all new HIV cases. Keeping this in mind, the strategy seeks to reduce new infections and HIV-related disparities in these communities, including access to HIV care. The strategy also addresses a number of other minorities including gay and bisexual men, Latino men and women, youth ages 13-24, people who inject drugs, and transgender women, who are all disproportionately affected by AIDS.

With this focus on minorities, at one point during the livestream, Douglas M. Brooks, the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy explained poignantly,

"I want to say to some young girl who may be trafficked, to some young gay man bullied and tortured, a woman picking up the pieces after being beaten last night…we want you to know that we love you and [this] strategy is about you and the healing of the nation….it's about HIV and the eradication across this country. We are committed to that."

For journalists covering the story, be sure to check out GLAAD's HIV and AIDS reporting guide, made as a part of our partnership with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and AIDS United. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag: #HIV2020.