“On this day, let us rededicate ourselves to continuing our work until we reach the day we know is possible — when no child has to know the pain of HIV/AIDS and no life is limited by this virus.”
–President Barack Obama, World AIDS Day 2014 Proclamation
Today is World AIDS Day — a day where the world comes together to remember those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS and to recommit ourselves to the international fight against this devastating disease. What began as the first-ever global health day is now an important opportunity to measure the progress we’ve made and the work we have left to do to achieve our ultimate goal: an AIDS-free generation. In fact, this year’s theme is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation.”
Since taking office, President Obama has made the realization of an AIDS-free generation a top priority. That is why he released the nation’s first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy in 2010. The Strategy’s goals are to reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care and improve outcomes for people living with HIV, and reduce HIV-related health disparities. As a result, the world has seen a seismic shift in the HIV epidemic — both in the U.S. and in partner countries. New HIV infections have dropped by 50 percent since the peak of the epidemic. More people living with HIV know their status, and more people are on antiretroviral medications.
But HIV/AIDS still claims too many lives. Right now, 35 million people are living with HIV, and 1.5 million people die every year. Together, as a global community, we must hold strong to our commitment to reach an AIDS-free generation. So here’s a look at how the President and his Administration are working to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in the fights against HIV/AIDS:
In the World
The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) represents America’s commitment to saving lives and the shared responsibility of all global partners toward achieving an AIDS-Free Generation. This year, PEPFAR has surpassed many of its commitments and goals as demonstrated by these statistics, and is announcing new initiatives for the future:
- 7.7 million men, women, and children on life-saving HIV treatment worldwide, exceeding the goal President Obama set in 2011 of 6 million people and marking a four-and-a-half-fold increase since the start of his Administration.
- In 2014, PEPFAR supported HIV testing and counseling for more than 56.7 million people, including 14.2 million pregnant women, while providing care and support for more than 5 million orphans and vulnerable children.
- PEPFAR also exceeded its goal in supporting training for more than 14,000 new health care workers to deliver HIV and other health services.
To continue this progress, PEPFAR is launching two new initiatives that will move us closer to stopping the spread of this disease:
- DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) — a public-private partnership with the Nike Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to achieve an AIDS-free future for adolescent girls and young women.
- Data Transparency — a PEPFAR-Millennium Challenge Corporation investment toward greater data transparency and improved accountability by creating country-based, country-driven local data hubs.
The Obama administration has accelerated progress along the HIV care continuum by expanding and refocusing programs to improve access to care and general outcomes. The Administration has:
- Improved knowledge of HIV status, with 86% of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. aware of their HIV status. With continued investment, the 2015 goal of increasing the percentage of those who know their HIV status to 90% is well within reach.
- Expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that no one can be denied because of a pre-existing condition, including HIV.
- Made high-impact investments at the state and local levels, supporting community-based organizations that work to improve outcomes in the most vulnerable communities.
- Integrated behavioral health into HIV services through a four year program that focuses on racial/ethnic minority populations at high risk, primarily in substance abuse treatment and community mental health programs.
- Supported the intersection of housing and healthcare, educating housing, health care, and community-based organizations on the positive impact stable housing can have on health outcomes for HIV patients.