WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is announcing a new
national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS aimed at helping
reduce the number of infections and providing those living with the
virus high-quality care free from stigma or discrimination.
The strategy calls for reducing the rate of new HIV infections
by 25 percent over the next five years, and for getting treatment
to 85 percent of patients within three months of their diagnosis.
Administration officials, including Health and Human Services
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and domestic policy chairwoman Melody
Barnes, were to unveil the strategy at the White House on Tuesday.
Obama was to discuss the strategy at a reception honoring the work
of the HIV and AIDS community later in the day.
"This is a moment of opportunity for the nation," Obama said
in a report to be released Tuesday. "Now is the time to build on
and refocus our existing efforts to deliver better results for the
The report is the result of more than a year of discussions
between the administration, state and local officials, advocacy
groups and the private sector. While the strategy calls for
improved coordination among federal agencies, it doesn't identify
any new government money to implement the strategy.
Approximately 56,000 people in the U.S. become infected each
year with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and more than 1.1.
million Americans are living with the HIV, according to the White
The new policy will concentrate HIV prevention efforts at the
highest-risk populations, which include gay and bisexual men as
well as black Americans, far more than is done today, said Chris
Collins of the Foundation for AIDS Research, one of the groups that
met with administration officials.
That means finding creative ways to spread successful local
programs that help HIV-negative people stay that way, as well as
providing education and treatment for people who are living with
HIV to reduce their chances of spreading the virus, Collins said.
The strategy also aims to copy some of the steps credited with
spurring the success of a Bush-era policy to fight AIDS in hard-hit
developing countries. That includes setting specific targets and
mandating coordination among different government agencies to guard
against missteps and wasted, duplicated efforts.
"We've never had that kind of coordinated, accountable effort
to address AIDS in America, and that's what we need," Collins
There is a new HIV infection every 9½ minutes in the U.S. But
about one of every five people living with HIV doesn't know it.
Access to care plays a role in prevention, too, because the more
virus in someone's bloodstream, the easier it is for that person to
spread infection through such things as unprotected sex.
In one step toward reducing disparities in access to care, the
Obama administration on Friday reallocated $25 million to states
that have waiting lists for their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs,
which provide treatment help for the uninsured and underinsured.
The National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors
reported that more than 2,200 people in 12 states were on waiting
lists for ADAP help as of last week.