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Federal Agencies Continue Work to Develop NHAS Action Plan

nhas2020 coverSince the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020 [PDF 2,230 KB] was released in late July, representatives of 10 federal agencies plus the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have been working within their departments as well as collaboratively across agencies to identify the action steps that will be taken to implement the Strategy. In addition, the Department of State will provide lessons learned from PEPFAR that may be applicable to the United States. The result of that process, co-facilitated by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) and the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP), will be a Federal Action Plan that will be released on December 1, 2015.

Just as the original Strategy did, the updated Strategy calls for a more coordinated national response to HIV/AIDS. Toward that end, in his Executive Order on implementing the Strategy, President Obama directed federal departments that have or can support HIV activities to develop this implementation plan. His order expanded the number of federal departments that will be engaged in implementation of the Strategy through 2020, including for the first time four federal departments that had not been lead agencies in the implementation of the original Strategy: the Departments of Defense, Education, Homeland Security, and Interior.

The Federal Action Plan will feature activities for 2016 organized by the Strategy’s Goals and Steps. It will also include activities intended to be undertaken in the subsequent years, although the Federal Action Plan should be updated as implementation of the Strategy progresses and new scientific, policy, and other advances emerge.

Rather than comprehensively catalogue every action to be taken individually by each of the many participating departments and sub-agencies, the Federal Action Plan will focus on actions that will foster collaboration among agencies and make a big difference in helping to reach the goals of the Strategy. In particular, the Federal Action Plan will highlight actions that address five key priorities of the Updated Strategy:

1. Widespread HIV testing and linkage to care enabling people living with HIV to access treatment early.

2. Broad support for people living with HIV to remain engaged in comprehensive care, including support for treatment adherence.

3. Full access to PrEP services for those whom it is appropriate and desired, with support for medication adherence

4. Universal viral suppression among people living with HIV.

5. Elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination in order to diminish barriers to HIV prevention, testing, and care.

Community Action Plan Framework Also In Development

The Updated Strategy also promised a complementary action plan framework that can be utilized by stakeholders outside of the federal government to identify specific actions that they can take, tailored to their own specific missions and priorities. As the President has reminded us, the Federal government cannot achieve the Strategy’s goals alone, nor should it. Active participation from stakeholders across all sectors of our society—including, state and local health departments, Tribal governments, community-based organizations, coalitions of persons living with HIV, health care providers, education institutions, and other stakeholders—will be vitally important as we work to harness and effectively deploy all of the tools available to us to achieve the goals of the Updated Strategy.

Since the release of the Updated Strategy in July, ONAP has been conferring with stakeholders from several national networks and community programs to inform the development of this action plan framework, which we are aiming to release in time for the National HIV Prevention Conference. It will be a tool to help stakeholders engage in thoughtful conversations and planning at the organization and community levels about how activities can be aligned with the Strategy’s goals and priorities so that we achieve the more coordinated response—locally as well as nationally—envisioned by the Strategy.

As we work to finalize both the Federal Action Plan and the Community Action Plan Framework, we invite all stakeholders to think about actions that they could take, aligned with the principles and priorities of the Updated Strategy and focused on attaining the biggest impact in your community.

We look forward to sharing both the Federal Action Plan and the Community Action Plan Framework with you in the weeks ahead. Working collaboratively and with focus, we will be able to achieve the ambitious targets set forth in the Updated Strategy. Both the Federal Action Plan and aligned efforts from stakeholders in communities across the Nation will help get us there.