Office of National AIDS Policy Blog

  • Stepping Up the Pace on HIV/AIDS: Four Years of Progress, More Work to Do

    Today, July 15, 2014, marks the fourth anniversary of the release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, we have made tremendous progress in addressing HIV/AIDS in the United States over the last four years.

    And today we are announcing additional steps to continue to implement the Strategy. They include an $11 million investment funded collaboratively by the HHS Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund and the Affordable Care Act, to strengthen the capacity of community health centers to identify and treat HIV. We also are announcing new tools to help states learn from others’ best practices to update their criminal laws to better align with the current science and public health approaches to HIV. These efforts build on the four years of hard work across the government and in partnership with community leaders, states, and others to advance the goals of the Strategy.

    The fact sheet we released today details many of these exciting steps, including new access to coverage under the Affordable Care Act, clinical recommendations on HIV screening for everyone between the ages of 15 and 65, realigning of resources to increase investments in cure research, and other important steps.

  • Ten Reasons to Address HIV/AIDS in Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on blog.AIDS.gov. See the original post here.

    Each year on May 19, we take time to reflect on the impact of the HIV epidemic on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). This includes listening to members of AAPI communities as they discuss how HIV has affected their lives and the lives of those they care about. Recently, my team asked our colleagues at The Banyan Tree Project, the group that sponsors National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, for their top reasons why it is so important to respond to HIV in AAPI communities. From their concerns, I offer this synthesis:

    • Low HIV testing rates and late testing. According to the CDC, more than one-third of Asians develop AIDS soon after being diagnosed, which may mean they are not receiving adequate care and treatment in time to prevent the development of AIDS.
    • Too many AAPIs are unaware of their HIV status. Also according to CDC [PDF 1.07KB], nearly one in four (22.7%) Asians living with HIV, and more than one in four (26.7%) Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islanders living with HIV, don’t know it. Without knowledge of their HIV status, these individuals are unable to take advantage of HIV medicines (known as antiretroviral therapy) that can both extend their lives and reduce the risk of transmission to others.
    • High HIV stigma. HIV-related stigma is a primary barrier to HIV testing and access to services in AAPI communities. For this reason, it is important to build a community where AAPIs living with, and at risk for HIV, feel safe, respected and accepted.
    • Not enough conversation about HIV and sexual health. Stigma also discourages AAPI people from talking openly about sexual health and HIV, which can have a detrimental health impact.
    • Culturally relevant HIV services are not always available. AAPIs represent many diverse countries of origin, cultures and customs, and require health services that are culturally relevant. Yet, HIV prevention, care and treatment services are not always available to AAPIs in culturally suitable ways, which decreases the likelihood that they will know about or choose to access these services. HIV services that are respectful of and responsive to individuals’ cultural needs are critical.
    • Linguistically relevant HIV services are also needed. English language fluency is a barrier to health care for many AAPIs. According to the U.S. Census, in 2011, 76.5% of Asian Americans spoke a language other than English at home. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders also speak a variety of different languages at home. HIV services and materials should be responsive to AAPIs’ linguistic needs.
    • Some providers do not always encourage HIV testing. CDC recommends that all individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine medical care, and that gay and bisexual men and others at high risk for HIV infection be tested more frequently. Yet, some health care providers and HIV prevention practitioners do not always encourage AAPIs and others to get tested. Providers should continue to increase their awareness of the importance of HIV testing for all individuals.

  • Statement by Dr. Tony Fauci on National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

    Ed. note: This was originally published on the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website.

    Watch on YouTube

    Developing a safe and sufficiently effective HIV vaccine is essential if we are to achieve a timely and durable end to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. The path to an HIV vaccine has not been—and will not be—an easy one. In the 27 years since the first HIV vaccine clinical trial was performed, we have been disappointed by many promising investigational vaccines that ultimately proved ineffective in clinical trials, encouraged by a large-scale study in Thailand that demonstrated for the first time that an HIV vaccine can provide a modest level of protection, and, heartened by recent important discoveries about antibodies that may be capable of protecting against a wide range of HIV strains.

    HIV is uniquely challenging as a vaccine target because, unlike other viruses, it elicits antibodies capable of killing a wide range of HIV strains (called broadly neutralizing antibodies) in only a minority of those who become infected and only after several years of infection. Furthermore, HIV is also extremely genetically diverse and mutates rapidly to evade immune responses. But through important basic research discoveries, scientists have made substantial progress in understanding how broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies develop and the specific sites on the virus to which they bind, which will lead to promising new targets for future HIV vaccine candidates.

  • White House Office of National AIDS Policy Announces Series of Listening Sessions

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on blog.AIDS.gov. See the original post here.

    The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) announced that it will host a series of regional listening sessions this summer on the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). Mr. Douglas Brooks, ONAP’s newly appointed Director, will lead the listening sessions, which will be part of a visit to each community that will include site visits to organizations engaged in the community’s efforts to improve outcomes along the HIV Care Continuum. The purpose of the listening sessions is to better understand local and state level efforts related to the implementation of the NHAS, including discussion about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is helping advance the Strategy. The meetings are open to the public with the goal of engaging many stakeholders about the innovations, successes, and challenges being experienced at the state and local levels.

    First Listening Session in Jackson, Mississippi

    The first of these listening sessions will be held in Jackson, Mississippi on Thursday, May 29, 2014 from 2:30 PM-4:30 PM at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Conference Center.

    The listening session is free and open to the public. However, pre-registration is requested so that organizers know how many attendees to expect. To RSVP, please visit: https://www.cmpinc.net/onap. Upon submitting your RSVP, you will receive a detailed confirmation letter via email.

  • What They’re Saying: Douglas M. Brooks as the New Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy

    After President Obama announced yesterday that Douglas M. Brooks, MSW, would lead the Office of National AIDS Policy, HIV/AIDS organizations from around the country announced their support. They echoed the President’s words when he said, “Douglas’s policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach.” Brooks, an openly gay African American man living with HIV, is a respected expert in the community whose distinct experiences will help further our goals of achieving an AIDS-free generation and improving the health of people living with HIV in the United States.

    Here’s what some HIV/AIDS organizations said about the President’s announcement:

    amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research (New York, NY)
    “We are eager to see strong leadership carry out the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s renewed focus on evidence-based policy and effective programming, especially with respect to populations hardest hit by AIDS in America, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, and African American and Latino men and women.”

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation (San Francisco, CA)
    “Douglas is the right person at the right time to step into this role. As new infections increasingly concentrate in the African-American community, and especially among Black gay men, it is more important than ever that our young people see a future for themselves in the face of someone like Douglas so that they can harness their innate resilience to create healthy and successful lives.”

    AIDS United (Washington, DC)
    “We have the opportunity to finally end the epidemic. I’ve been fortunate to work directly with Douglas, and have great confidence that he knows how to convene the right public and private partners to engage in the right conversations that will result in real progress.”

    National Minority AIDS Council (Washington, DC)
    “As the most heavily impacted population in the country, it is critical that Black gay men – especially those living with HIV – are represented at the highest levels of our government’s response to the epidemic.”

    Lifelong AIDS Alliance (Seattle, WA)
    “His tireless work to support the communities most greatly affected by HIV is steeped in compassion and personal commitment supported by epidemiological data. This appointment will help drive our common objective to end AIDS today and subsequently put a dent in HIV incidence within the United States and worldwide.”

    The AIDS Institute (Washington, DC)
    “Achieving these goals in an environment of constrained budget resources and within the changing landscape of the Affordable Care Act provides unique opportunities and challenges. We are confident Brooks possesses the leadership and passion to guide the White House through the next few years as we together aim to fulfill the President’s desire to realize an AIDS-free generation.”

    Gautam Raghavan is Associate Director with the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • Progress Made on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities

    Today, the Office of the Vice President, the White House Council on Women and Girls, and the White House Office of National AIDS Policy welcomed community leaders and Federal colleagues to celebrate progress to date by the President’s Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities. It is timely that we gather at the White House during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. As the President proclaimed, girls and young women ages 16 to 24 are at the highest risk for dating violence, and this February, “we renew our commitment to preventing abuse, supporting survivors, holding offenders accountable, and building a culture of respect.” The recommendations for action in the White House Working Group report, Addressing the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities, build on this commitment.

    Together with public and private stakeholders, today’s discussion focused on our progress on implementing the report’s core objectives, which aim to support the wellbeing of women and girls by leveraging Federal resources and improving collaboration among agencies. We have made significant strides, and we are proud to share what we have accomplished. Here are some examples of current efforts that align with the report’s objectives.

    We are working to improve health and wellness for women by screening for both intimate partner violence(IPV) and HIV. Key Federal agencies are working with large clinical providers to inform physicians, nurse practitioners, and community health care providers about screening recommendations for HIV and IPV. Partnering agencies include the HHS Office on Women’s Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Administration for Children and Families’ Family Violence Prevention and Services Program.