The National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020 was in the spotlight during a plenary session of the 2015 U.S. Conference on AIDS in Washington, DC, yesterday (September 10, 2015). The annual conference, sponsored by the National Minority AIDS Council , has assembled nearly 3,000 participants from across the country in Washington, DC.
ONAP Director Brooks Issues Call to Action
Douglas M. Brooks, MSW, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), provided participants an overview of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020, which his office released on July 30, 2015. He explained that the updated Strategy:
- Retained the original vision and four national goals.
- Integrates two Presidential orders issued in support of the original Strategy: the HIV Care Continuum Initiative and the Federal Inter-agency Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities.
- Builds on the progress and lessons from implementing the 2010 Strategy and build on the improved federal collaboration.
- Seeks to leverage some major advances since the launch of the original Strategy [PDF 607 KB] including the many benefits of the Affordable Care Act for people at risk for or living with HIV, scientific discoveries that have expanded our prevention toolkit and recommended treatment for all who test positive.
- Focuses our national response on the right people, right places, and right practices [ PDF 604 KB].
- Establishes 10 indicators to will be used to monitor our progress and proposes the creation of 3 developmental indicators.
Mr. Brooks observed that the Strategy belongs to everyone and that achieving its goals will require engagement from all sectors of society. He shared that while Federal agencies are working to develop a Federal Action Plan to implement the Strategy by December 1, his office would be in dialogue with nonfederal stakeholders about developing a framework that they could use to create their own action plans, tailored to their unique community needs and organizational capacities. He encouraged participants to be thoughtful about “What might you be able to do in your state or community to implement the Strategy?” He concluded by sharing the “Community Voices” video from the NHAS launch event in July.
Mr. Brooks also announced that he had just launched his Twitter account, and invited those interested in knowing more about the Strategy and the national response to HIV/AIDS to follow him at @DMBrooks44 .
NIH’s Dr. Fauci Discusses Scientific Advances in HIV/AIDS
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), also spoke during the federal plenary. He observed that while important progress has been made to increase the proportion of people with HIV who are aware of their status, the latest CDC analysis of the HIV care continuum nationally indicates that there is much more work to be done to increase the proportion of individuals on HIV treatment and who have achieved viral suppression and achieve both the Strategy’s goals and the UNAIDS 90/90/90 goals .
These goals, he explained, are achievable, but will require, in particular, the effective application of advances in ART to both treatment and prevention. He reviewed recent studies that have demonstrated the effectiveness of ART, including the START study that found that beginning ART early (soon after diagnosis) improves outcomes for HIV-infected individuals, and other recent studies that have found that treatment is highly effective at preventing sexual transmission of HIV to uninfected heterosexual partners. And, he shared, a recent study in Baltimore demonstrated that as the number of people on HIV treatment increased and viral suppression rates increased, the rate of HIV incidence declined. “So,” he noted, “there is no excuse for not treating every single person regardless of CD4 count.”
Dr. Fauci also pointed to HIV prevention studies that have demonstrated the significant effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). He pointed to a study released last week by Kaiser Permanente indicating that over 2.5 years of observation of a cohort of individuals using PrEP found no new HIV infections among patients. These findings underscore the important role that PrEP will play in meeting our national HIV goals, as called for in the updated Strategy.
Dr. Fauci concluded his presentation by observing that ending the HIV epidemic is no longer just a feasible goal, but an inevitable one if we apply the best science to our efforts.
Here on the blog, we will continue to share highlights from USCA 2015 in the coming days.