Office of National AIDS Policy Blog

  • Addressing the HIV Epidemic among Gay and Bisexual Men

    In 1981, our nation and its public health system were grappling with a new disease that was taking the lives of gay men across the United States. Thirty years later, HIV/AIDS continues to be a crisis among gay and bisexual men. The latest data show men who have sex with men (MSM) remain most affected in this country. Although MSM represent 2% of the population, they account for 64% of all new infections (including 3% among MSM who are injection drug users [IDUs]). CDC estimates that there were more than 30,000 new HIV infections in 2009 among MSM, including MSM-IDU. Though the numbers have gone down dramatically, approximately 7,000 MSM with an AIDS diagnoses still die each year and nearly 300,000 MSM with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic.

    Today, we commemorate the fourth annual National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an observance founded by the National Association of People with AIDS to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among gay and bisexual men. This annual observance is one way we are focusing attention and resources on those populations at highest risk for HIV infection, including gay and bisexual men. This focus is a top priority outlined in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS).

  • National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day: A Perspective from the National Institutes of Health

    On September 18, 2011, we mark the fourth observance of National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day.  The remarkable success of antiretroviral therapies in prolonging the lives of HIV-infected individuals who have access to and can tolerate these drugs has led to many more HIV-infected people living into middle and old age.  In 2008, an estimated 29 percent of HIV-infected adults in the U.S. were at least 50 years of age, and in 2009, individuals in that age group accounted for 17% of all new HIV diagnoses.  Both of these percentages have been increasing in recent years.  As the benefits of improved therapies for HIV continue to accrue, research into the complex relationship between aging and HIV becomes increasingly critical.

    A major goal of HIV and aging research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to achieve greater understanding of how premature aging of the immune system may be occurring in people living with HIV, and clarifying the fundamental mechanisms of inflammation.  Understanding the complex interaction between HIV and aging will require considerable effort on multiple fronts. The NIH Institutes and Centers support a broad range of research on HIV and aging.  For example, this past April, three NIH Institutes (National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) announced that they will fund research into the effects of HIV on the brain in aging populations taking antiretroviral therapy.  Within the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) programs, research on HIV and aging is ongoing in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS). These long term follow-up studies of HIV infected women (WIHS) and men (MACS) have defined some of the important differences in HIV risk, pathogenesis and treatment response between the sexes. The International Epidemiologic Database to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) provides domestic and international information about the epidemic including pathogenesis differences between HIV infected adults who are growing older and newly infected older individuals. In addition, studies conducted by the Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR), AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), and the International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials (INSIGHT) are pursuing HIV and aging-related scientific questions.

  • Latest Update: Registering for the NHAS Implementation Dialogues

    NHAS Implementation Dialogues

    In two earlier blog posts we outlined the topic and format for a series of regional dialogues that the White House Office of National AIDS Policy will convene to focus attention on issues related to implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  These events will be a forum for Federal, state and local agency representatives, researchers, clinicians, the HIV community, and leaders from the business, foundation, faith and media sectors to share their diverse expertise, and collaborative experience. 

    Registering for the Events

    The events are free, open to the public, anyone can attend.  To help us better plan each event we ask  that you  register in advance for each of the events that you are interested in attending.  You may register for as many events as you wish to attend.

    Register now.

    Upon submitting your registration, you will receive a detailed confirmation letter via email.

    Dialogue Topics and Locations:  Updated September 12, 2011

    We are planning five dialogues on distinct topics related to implementing the Strategy.

    Incorporating Prevention and Care Research Into HIV Programs

    Date:          Tuesday, September 27, 2011
    Time:          2:00 – 4:30 pm
    Location:      Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center, University of Alabama, B 1200 10th Ave. S. Birmingham, AL

    Building Capacity within the HIV Workforce so that it Delivers What We Need Today and Tomorrow

    Date:          Tuesday, October 4, 2011
    Time:          5:30 – 8:00 pm
    Location:     Swedish Medical Center, Glaser Auditorium, 747 Broadway, Seattle, WA

    Sustaining the Community-Based Response to HIV

    Date:        Thursday, October 20, 2011
    Time:        3:00 – 5:30 pm (new time)
    Location:   University of Pennsylvania, Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Dhirubhai Ambani Auditorium, 3730 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

    Fostering Collaboration Between all Public and Private Stakeholders at the State and Local Level

    Date:          Tuesday, October 25, 2011
    Time:         6:00pm-8:30pm
    Location:   Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70801

    Maximizing Impact in Low-Prevalence Jurisdictions

    Des Moines, Iowa (Early November 2011)

    Additional dates, times, locations will be announced soon.  Please continue to check the ONAP and AIDS.gov websites for more information.

    James Albino is Senior Program Manager at the Office of National AIDS Policy

  • Update: National HIV/AIDS Strategy Implementation Dialogues

    Our Federal partners, as well as so many community members, people living with HIV, funders, businesses, faith leaders and other stakeholders have demonstrated encouraging support and enthusiasm for the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  Perhaps one of the most encouraging developments has been the way the NHAS has helped steer the national HIV conversation in the direction of the Strategy’s goals.  States and local jurisdictions have already begun the process of developing their own Strategy and implementation plans.

    NHAS Implementation Dialogues: To sustain this effort the Office of National AIDS Policy will convene a series of regional dialogues to focus attention on issues related to implementation of the Strategy.  These dialogues will serve as a forum for Federal and state agency representatives, researchers, clinicians, the HIV community, and leaders from the business, foundation, faith and media sectors to share their diverse expertise, and collaborative experience. 

    We are planning five dialogues on distinct topics related to implementing the Strategy. Here are the updated dialogue topics and locations:

  • Announcing National HIV/AIDS Strategy Implementation Dialogues

    As we shared in our blog last month, significant progress has been made in implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (Strategy) in its first year. We are proud of the enthusiasm, support and contributions of our Federal partners, as well as so many community members, people living with HIV, funders, businesses, faith leaders and other stakeholders.

    As these stakeholders have demonstrated, the success of the Strategy doesn’t lie in the hands of the Federal government alone. One of the most encouraging developments over the last year has been the manner in which the Strategy has served to steer a conversation about HIV in the direction of the strategic steps that individuals, communities, states, and the Nation need to take to achieve the Strategy’s goals. In various state and local jurisdictions across the country, agencies have either developed their own Strategy implementation plans, or they have started the process of doing so. Additionally, numerous HIV services and advocacy organizations have held meetings and community dialogues about what the Strategy means for their own communities. These actions are critically important and must continue.

  • White House Commemorates World Hepatitis Day 2011

    Today, I was honored to participate in a special White House event to commemorate the first official World Hepatitis Day.  This event was one of many held across the United States and around the world for communities to join together and focus attention on the global health threat of viral hepatitis and promote actions to confront it.

    Worldwide, one in twelve persons are estimated to be living with viral hepatitis and about one million people around the world die every year because of viral hepatitis.  Many people infected with viral hepatitis are unaware of their status, and as a result, may unknowingly transmit the infection to others.  Without knowing their status, these patients also face the possibility of developing otherwise preventable debilitating or fatal liver disease.  Last year, in recognition of this “silent epidemic,” the World Health Assembly resolved that July 28 should be designated as World Hepatitis Day, providing an opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and recognize it as a major global health problem.  The theme for this first official World Hepatitis Dayis “This is hepatitis... Know it.  Confront it.  Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere.” 

    In the United States, an estimated 3.5-5.3 million persons are living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus.  Viral hepatitis impacts Americans of all backgrounds but affects some U.S. populations more than others.  Half of all hepatitis B infected persons in the U.S. are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; African-Americans are twice as likely to be infected with hepatitis C when compared with the general population.  To actively address these disparities and to accelerate our efforts to fight viral hepatitis, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed an Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis.  The plan outlines actions to increase viral hepatitis awareness and knowledge among health care providers and communities, and steps that will improve access to quality prevention, care, and treatment services for viral hepatitis.  Improved coordination across HHS, along with the active engagement of other governmental and nongovernmental partners—including informed communities—will be crucial to our success. 

    Today’s World Hepatitis Day Event was hosted by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy with active support from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.  Dr. Howard K. Koh, the Assistant Secretary for Health, emphasized that marking this day in such a special way provides an opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to focus more attention on this pressing public health issue.  Dr. Koh was among the dignitaries who provided opening remarks at the event and read a World Hepatitis Day proclamation on behalf of President Obama.  I was pleased to then hear from several members of Congress, including Representatives Bill Cassidy, Judy Chu, Michael Honda, Hank Johnson, and Barbara Lee, who have been leaders in raising hepatitis awareness.  I moderated a panel that highlighted opportunities across the federal government to implement the HHS Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis.  This discussion was followed by a session led by health care providers and patients living with viral hepatitis who shared their individual experiences with fighting viral hepatitis.  Mr. Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, provided a closing statement to the audience, which included government leaders, policy makers, community advocates, patients, and health professionals.

    To learn more about World Hepatitis Day or about viral hepatitis visit the CDC’s website.  Also, read the Presidential Proclamation–World Hepatitis Day.

    Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H. is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services