White House unveils national HIV/AIDS strategy
The White House on Tuesday unveiled the first formal national HIV/AIDS strategy, a plan that aims to reduce the number of new cases by 25 percent in the next five years, officials said.
Noting that the number of new infections in the United States has been static -- and that the number of people living with HIV is growing -- the new policy directs more resources toward four high-risk groups: African Americans, gay and bisexual men, Latinos, and substance abusers.
"Fighting HIV/AIDS in America and around the world will require more than just fighting the virus," President Obama said, according to the Associated Press. "It will require a broader effort to make life more just and equitable." Obama spoke at a White House reception honoring people who work on HIV/AIDS issues.
The new strategy comes as President Obama faces pressure from gay rights advocates to do more for their community, including hastening the repeal of the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military. The new HIV/AIDS policy has been summarized in a 60-page report that credits the Bush administration for its efforts to address the disease but also laments that Americans' concern about HIV seems to have declined.
"We've been keeping pace when we should be gaining ground," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at an event earlier on Tuesday announcing the plan, according to the Associated Press.
In addition to slashing the infection rate, the strategy calls for increasing patients' access to care so that 85 percent of those infected receive care within three months of being diagnosed, up from 65 percent who do so now. It says that 90 percent of all people who have HIV or AIDS should be aware that they are infected, up from the current 79 percent. Another goal is to reduce the HIV transmission rate by 30 percent.