Office of National AIDS Policy Blog

  • Today Is National HIV Testing Day


    To locate an HIV testing site near you, text your Zip Code to “KNOWIT” (566948), visit www.HIVtest.org, or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636). To find local HIV resources, including testing, housing, substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and family planning, visit the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Services Provider Locator tool.


    Ed. note: This is crossposted from blog.AIDS.gov

    Despite many continuing challenges, this is a time of exciting progress and hope in the fight against HIV/AIDS. A record number of Americans living with HIV know their HIV status. According to recently released data, nearly 82 percent of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States are aware of their infection. Knowing your HIV status is a critical first step to getting life-saving treatment and care. Importantly, people who know they have HIV are much less likely to spread their infection to others.

    However, we still face considerable challenges—18 percent of Americans with HIV don’t know they are infected.  That’s more than 200,000 people.  To achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we must ensure that people get tested and that those who are HIV-positive are linked to timely and effective care.

    To do this, it is imperative that we increase the number of people who are routinely tested for HIV in health care settings, and also make it easier for people to get tested in community settings.

    I’d like to highlight just one example of what we’re doing to make it easier for people to get tested for HIV. For the 2012 observance of National HIV Testing Day, June 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced a new pilot project to train pharmacists and retail store clinic staff at 12 rural and 12 urban sites to provide voluntary, confidential, rapid HIV testing. The goal is to extend HIV testing and counseling and make it much more easily accessible in the communities where people live.

  • Towards AIDS 2012: Accomplishments and Challenges in the U.S. Epidemic

    We’re less than a month away from the beginning of the International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference – AIDS 2012 - in Washington, D.C.  In the coming weeks, the Office of National AIDS Policy is looking forward to bringing you a series of blogs that we hope inform the discussions at the IAS Conference. 

    AIDS 2012 takes place at an historic moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Scientific advances, funded in large part by the United States, have made it possible to set our sights on creating an AIDS-free generation. To achieve this goal, we must all share in the responsibility to make smart investments that will improve and save even more lives. 

    We know that we have our work cut out for us. On the domestic front, we must continue to target populations at the greatest risk and increase the availability of HIV testing and treatment. We will measure success in the best way it can be measured – whether we are preventing HIV infections and making lives better for people living with HIV/AIDS.

    The Obama Administration is committed to continuing American leadership in both the domestic and global fight against this disease. As President Obama said on World AIDS Day, together, we can and we will win this fight. 

    A month from now, thousands of people from across the globe will be coming to Washington, D.C. to discuss the latest innovative scientific and policy advances in HIV prevention and care at the annual International AIDS conference. Hosted by the International AIDS Society, the conference is returning to the United States for the first time since 1990 because of this and the prior Administration’s successful efforts to end the HIV/AIDS Entry Ban.

    The conference’s return to the U.S comes at a pivotal moment in the history of the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Thanks to ongoing scientific advances, we’re now at the point, as described by President Obama on World AIDS day, where we can envision  an AIDS-free generation. 

    In the 22 years since the IAS conference has been in the U.S., remarkable progress has been made in addressing the domestic epidemic. In 1990 we did not have effective treatments and thousands of Americans were dying from AIDS-related complications. Today, we have multiple effective medications to control the virus. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are alive because of these treatments.  Center for Disease Control reports show that due to widespread testing and treatment of pregnant women here in the United States, mother-to-child transmissions have dropped by nearly 90%.

  • Measuring Meaningful HIV Clinical Care Outcomes

    Ed. Note: This is cross posted from AIDS.gov

    Collecting and analyzing data is critical to the success of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) – we need to know what’s most effective in improving the health and wellness of the 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV. One challenge is the lack of consensus on what core indicators to use to monitor HIV care.

    To address this gap, the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to identify key indicators to monitor HIV outcomes. The report recommends considering 14 core HIV indicators, including nine indicators for clinical HIV care and five for mental health, substance use, and supportive services. These measures can be used at the local, state, and federal level, and provide a framework for agencies and clinics to measure the effectiveness of their programs. In addition, the report makes recommendations for improving the monitoring of HIV care across data systems, identifies and proposes solutions with regard to reducing reporting burden and streamlining data collection, and discusses ways health information technology can be used to facilitate the exchange of data to improve outcomes. The full report can be accessed here.

  • White House Office Hours: Combatting the Spread of HIV/AIDS Among Women and Girls

    Note: This live session of Office Hours has concluded. View the full question and answer session below or at Storify.com

    There are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, including more than 290,000 women.  Black and Hispanic  women account for nearly three-quarters of new HIV infections among women.  In July 2010, President Obama launched the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy to provide a coordinated national response to fight the epidemic.

    Last week, as part of these ongoing efforts, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum establishing an inter-agency working group on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities.   

    On Wednesday, the co-chairs of the working group, Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and Dr. Grant Colfax, the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, will join us for a special session of office hours on Twitter to take your questions on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and gender-related health disparities and the importance of supporting continued research, mobilizing both the public- and private-sector, and engaging families and communities.

    To learn more about the working group read the presidential memorandum and don’t forget to ask your questions during office hours on Wednesday. 

    Here are the details:

    • Join us for Office Hours on Twitter at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4th
    • Ask your question on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
    • Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and Dr. Grant Colfax, the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, will respond to your questions in real-time via Twitter from @WHLive
    • Follow the Q&A through the @WHLive Twitter account
    • If you miss the live event, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse

    We hope you can join us! Follow us on Twitter @WhiteHouseand @WHLive  for the latest updates and more chances to engage.

  • The Next Step in Combatting the Spread of HIV/AIDS Among Women and Girls

    As the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, it is my honor to join Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, in announcing the next step in President Obama’s commitment to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst women and girls. Please read on for more details.

    There are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, including more than 290,000 women.   Black and Hispanic  women account for nearly three-quarters of new HIV infections among women.  In July 2010, President Obama launched the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy to provide a coordinated national response to fight the epidemic, with the goals of reducing new infections, improving health outcomes, and decreasing HIV-related health disparities.  This past World AIDS Day, the President said that “When black women feel forgotten, even though they account for most of the new cases among women, then we’ve got to do more."  President Obama was joined by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a call to our partners—including government stakeholders at all levels, healthcare professionals, and HIV/AIDS service providers—to unite in an effort to usher in an “AIDS-free generation.” To reach this goal, it is clear we must address HIV among women, particularly among women of color.

    As directed in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, Federal agencies are collaborating in new ways.  We are embracing scientific findings to implement evidenced-based prevention methods in order to be more effective at preventing new HIV infections, and we are exploring new approaches to integrate prevention and care. As part of this ongoing collaborative approach, President Obama has issued a presidential memorandum establishing an inter-agency working group on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities. The President has asked Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Womenand Dr. Grant Colfax, the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, to serve as co-chairs.

  • A Transformative Time for HIV Prevention and Care

    It’s a great honor to join an Administration that’s done so much to address the HIV epidemic. I especially want to acknowledge ONAP’s prior director, Jeff Crowley, for his stellar leadership over the past three years.

    This is a transformative time for HIV prevention and care: recent research breakthroughs in testing and treatment mean that a future AIDS-free generation is a real possibility. While there is much to be done, it is remarkable how far we’ve come.

    I’m especially grateful that my first day on the job included a White House commemoration of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This meeting of community members, researchers, and Federal representatives focused on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and gender-related disparities. We reviewed data that show women account for nearly a quarter of new HIV cases in the United States, and that the majority of these cases are among women of color. Especially concerning is that HIV infection rates among black women are over fifteen times higher than in white women; rates among Hispanics/Latinas are five times higher.

    The meeting included the announcement of the formation of two important working groups to make recommendations for moving forward on this important issue. The inter-agency Federal working group will be co-chaired by me and Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, and will comprise of members of multiple Federal agencies to ensure an interdisciplinary and coordinated approach. A second group comprised of a diversity of members from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) will also meet soon. I’d like to thank personally the meeting’s organizers, speakers and participants for an inspirational event.

    The working groups’ recommendations will include informing the multiple current Federal efforts addressing the HIV care and treatment needs of women and girls. Some examples are the CDC’s “Take Charge. Take the Test” initiative to increase HIV testing among women; the NIH-supported WIHS study, the longest ongoing women’s cohort study ever in the United States; and the expansion of HIV testing and linkage to care efforts at Family Planning Clinics. Perhaps most exciting, in 2011 alone, the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage of preventive services to 54 million people, including more than 20 million women.