This World AIDS Day is particularly poignant because this year we have marked the 30th anniversary of the first reports of AIDS. Today, as we remember those we have lost, we also celebrate the progress we have made and look expectantly to the future. Together, we are taking this year’s World AIDS Day theme, “Leading with Science, Uniting for Action,” encouraging HIV testing, and helping those living with HIV to get the life-saving care and treatment they need.
Reaching the goal of a world without HIV/AIDS will require us to take full advantage of recent scientific discoveries; implement policies that support HIV prevention, testing, and treatment efforts; and work together to meet the needs of those at risk for, and living with, HIV/AIDS. We are moving ahead quickly on the science. In the last year, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) demonstrated that people who were being treated for their HIV disease reduced the risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners by 96 percent. That finding offers great hope for our “treatment as prevention” efforts and for a future without HIV.
We are implementing policies to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have access to the care and treatment they need. HHS is committing an additional $35 million to support grants to states for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs and an additional $15 million to provide services and treatment to an increased number of patients at HIV medical clinics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a new national campaign “Testing Makes Us Stronger” that will promote HIV testing among black gay and bisexual men, who are experiencing a sharp increase in rates of HIV infection. Testing is crucial to ending the epidemic because people who know their HIV status can take steps to protect themselves and their partners and live longer and healthier lives.
All these efforts build on a foundation laid by the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which dramatically expands access to coverage for people with HIV/AIDS. The law also bans the worst insurance abuses so that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with HIV and other conditions or cancel coverage when someone gets sick or makes an error on a form. Under the health care law, we’re also expanding Medicaid so that it will be available to many more Americans with HIV/AIDS, including single adults.
This World AIDS Day, we can be proud of what we have accomplished.
For more information on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, visit http://www.aids.gov/federal-resources/policies/national-hiv-aids-strategy/.
For more information on parts of the new health care law, visit www.healthcare.gov.