CDC Plans on-the-Ground 'HIV Elimination Teams' for Trump Plan

Grant Boone
February 9, 2019

President Donald Trump is launching a campaign to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030, targetting areas where new infections happen and getting highly effective drugs to people at risk. More than one million Americans live with the disease. "In so far as the administration is willing to address those issues, which they seem to indicate that they are, then this is definitely an obtainable goal", said Bruce Packett, executive director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine. The South accounted for 52 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"The administration's plan will deploy the people and key prevention and treatment strategies needed to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent over the next 5 years, with the hope of a 90 percent reduction within 10 years", Redfield said.

"In the US, 1 out of every 8 people infected with HIV does not know it", said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. For years, the tireless efforts of HIV advocates to end the HIV epidemic in the United States had been ignored by broad swaths of the political establishment in Washington, with only a handful of doggedly determined champions in Congress to make sure that funding for HIV programming wasn't cut and to fight back against the discrimination, criminalization, and stigmatization of people living with HIV. To help pinpoint where the need for testing and treatment was greatest, "we actually lifted the number of infections in each county, and that allowed us to sort of rank the counties in terms of how they were contributing to the annual infections in America".

Briefing reporters ahead of Trump's State of the Union speech, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and senior public health officials said the campaign relies on fresh insights into where about half of new HIV cases occur - 48 out of some 3,000 USA counties, and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and seven states with at-risk rural residents.

"We've never had that kind of "This is the target", said Dr Anthony Fauci, the government's pre-eminent AIDS warrior and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The 48 counties HHS is focussing on are mainly metro areas.

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CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said today that he's "excited that CDC is part of this unprecedented opportunity to end the HIV epidemic in America".

Millions of people worldwide have died from HIV, but the advent of potent antiretroviral drug cocktails in the mid-1990s revolutionized care, keeping viral levels down to undetectable levels and stopping the onset of Aids.

In the United States, more than 1 million people aged 13 and older are living with HIV infection, with an estimated 15 percent unaware of their status, and approximately 56,000 new infections occur each year, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Every 44 minutes, a 13- to 29-year-old gay or bisexual man in the U.S. gets diagnosed with HIV", Mustanski added.

The steps taken by government to track the patients through HIV diagnosis to care and treatment include adoption of Test and Treat policy under which all patients diagnosed with HIV are put on Anti Retro Viral Treatment irrespective of their CD4 Count; Launch of Mission Sampark to reach out to all the lost to follow patients living with HIV and linking them back as much as possible to Anti Retro Viral Treatment.

Officials have been planning an offensive against HIV with the precision of a military campaign. By 2030, the goal is fewer than 100 new HIV cases per year or "functional zero" -a point where the HIV epidemic can no longer sustain itself. We have PrEP now which is highly effective and readily available.

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