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President Obama announces new efforts to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States

President Barack Obama today announced accelerated efforts to increase the availability of treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States in conjunction with World AIDS Day 2011.  The president directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to invest approximately $50 million in new funding to support AIDS Drug Assistance Programs in states and increase access to HIV/AIDS care services.

“President Obama has laid out a compelling vision that has the power to change the course of the epidemic,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Now it’s up to all of us to make our National HIV/AIDS Strategy real.  Treatment not only improves and extends the lives of people living with HIV, but it also drastically reduces their risk of spreading the virus.  Today we have a unique opportunity to significantly alter the course of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.”

The president emphasized that critical HHS resources will help ensure that HIV-positive Americans get the best care and treatment possible.  HHS will commit approximately $35 million in new funding and enhanced technical assistance through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs so that approximately 3,000 people living with HIV/AIDS will have access to life-saving medications.  In addition, HHS will provide $15 million in new funding to support experienced community-based providers of care for individuals with HIV/AIDS.

As part of today’s announcement, HHS will sponsor new activities focused on improving adherence to medications and encouraging consistent access to HIV care.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 34 percent of HIV/AIDS patients do not receive consistent care and only 28 percent of HIV/AIDS patients have their HIV under control.  Consequently, HHS will help providers improve quality of health care delivered and states monitor and improve the continuum of HIV care for patients.

Today’s announcement builds upon the Obama Administration’s new testing initiatives to help the estimated 240,000 Americans living with HIV who are not aware that they are infected.  For example, CDC has launched a new campaign to encourage testing among one of the hardest hit populations in the United States, black men who have sex with men.  Testing Makes Us Stronger is part of Act Against AIDS, CDC’s national campaign to bring attention to the importance of HIV prevention and testing.  In 2012, CDC will also be working with partners to expand its successful campaign for African American women.

Recognizing that the federal government’s efforts are only part of the solution, President Obama also applauded commitments by other public and private sector partners to expand and improve HIV/AIDS care services.  The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors announced a new agreement with Gilead Sciences to extend additional voluntary discounts and rebates for most Gilead medications purchased by state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, as well as a continued price freeze through 2013.

To learn more about World AIDS Day activities, visit AIDS.gov.

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