Last Friday, September 20, 2013, the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) was pleased to host a number of HIV/AIDS leaders from across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as well as many non-federal stakeholders as we paused to recognize and reflect on major accomplishments across HHS in implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. During the meeting, we released the 2012 HHS National HIV/AIDS Strategy Progress Report [PDF 596KB]. This is our second annual progress report. It highlights just some of the many important actions taken by HHS operating divisions and offices during 2012, underscoring the breadth and diversity of those activities—from research, regulation, and policy making to prevention services, training, public awareness, and grant making—that have helped advance us toward the Strategy’s goals.
Opening the meeting, Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, remarked on the importance of such opportunities to pause and take stock and in so doing, re-charge and re-affirm our dedication to the Strategy’s goals. He observed that the report illustrates that since the Strategy’s release three years ago, HHS agencies and offices have “stretched, found new ways to connect, work across agencies and programs, and get greater impact for our programs and the people at risk for and living with HIV that we serve.” He also recognized that the progress to date toward the Strategy’s goals has been “a true community collective effort,” involving individuals and organizations from across sectors, including state and local health departments, community-based organizations, health care providers, people living with HIV/AIDS, and many others who have made major contributions to our collective efforts.
During the event, which we livestreamed via HHS.gov/live, we heard from federal HIV/AIDS leaders about progress made by their respective agencies or offices in reducing new HIV infections, optimizing treatment outcomes for people living with HIV, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. Among those sharing highlights were Dr. Jonathan Mermin from CDC; Drs. Deborah Parham Hopson, Seiji Hayashi, and Sylvia Trent-Adams from HRSA; Dr. Stephen Cha from CMS; Ms. Lisa Neel of IHS; Dr. Gina Brown of NIH; Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz of SAMHSA; and Ms. Sonsiere Cobb-Souza of OMH. Each shared examples of their organization’s 2012 accomplishments in applying the principles of the Strategy to their work. Many of these highlights involved important collaborative work with other federal agencies, offices, or programs, a positive consequence of the Strategy’s call for “a more coordinated national response” to the epidemic in the United States.
Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, thanked the HHS personnel and non-federal stakeholders present for all of their efforts to date to pursue the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s goals. He closed the half-day session with a look forward, highlighting the importance of bringing forward the evidence, data, and the voices of people living with HIV/AIDS to achieve the goals of the Strategy. Dr. Colfax also discussed how the next stage of Strategy implementation will be guided by the President’s recent Executive Order establishing the HIV Care Continuum Initiative. Through this order, the President has asked all the federal agencies and offices working to pursue the NHAS goals to look carefully at how we are investing resources and evaluating efforts to improve outcomes along the entire HIV care continuum, focusing on HIV diagnosis, linkage to and retention in HIV care, and increasing the proportion of people living with HIV who achieve durable viral suppression.
HHS progress toward the Strategy’s goals highlighted in the new report provides a solid foundation for our continuing efforts. In the coming months, it will be essential to sustain this momentum. We must leverage opportunities afforded by the President’s call for a sharpened focus on the HIV care continuum and the important health care system transformations being brought about by implementation of the Affordable Care Act, all the while working with our federal and non-federal partners to realize the vision of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.