Since President Obama released the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy (the “Strategy”) last July, 2010, I have had the privilege of helping to guide its implementation as well as coordinate the many integrated federal activities involved in reaching these ambitious goals. On this first anniversary, we can celebrate considerable strides toward reaching the Strategy’s clear and measurable targets by 2015, but there is still more work to be done across all sectors.
The comprehensive Strategy serves as a roadmap for reinvigorated governmental and non-governmental partners across the nation. I am encouraged by the efforts underway in states, cities and communities to integrate and refocus existing HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts to deliver better results. A major example of dedicated, improved coordination is the HHS-supported 12 Cities Project which is focused on areas in the U.S. that bear the highest AIDS burden. In addition, a broad range of community-based organizations, academic institutions, businesses and faith communities are aligning their efforts toward the shared goals and unprecedented opportunities presented by the Strategy.
I am also heartened by the heightened levels of communication and coordination on existing and new HIV/AIDS activities within the Department of Health and Human Services as well as cross-agency collaboration among our federal partners at the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration. In addition to increasing coordination of HIV programs, we have also developed better ways to monitor and report on our collective progress. This integrated approach is essential to move the country forward and accomplish the Strategy’s vision of a nation where new HIV infections are rare and where every person will have quality, life-extending care.
We have also woven the Strategy into other key national health initiatives. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already improving access to health insurance coverage for people living with HIV/AIDS, ensuring quality coverage and increasing opportunities for health and well-being. The landmark law makes considerable strides in improving care and advancing equality for people living with HIV and AIDS. For details, read “How Does the Affordable Care Act Impact People Living with HIV/AIDS?”
Furthermore, we are coordinating and aligning our HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts with complementary Department-wide and government-wide prevention and care initiatives including the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, Action Plan for the Prevention Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis and National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy.
Although we have more work ahead of us, we have made tremendous progress this last year at HHS, across the federal government and in partnership with states and communities. Reaching these goals and realizing our vision requires sustaining the great momentum of this first year across all levels of government, the private sector and with the leadership of people living with HIV and affected communities.
It’s an honor to be a part of this historic process with so many committed partners that believe in a common purpose. I look forward to continuing our important work to make the Strategy come alive and leave a legacy for America.