Office of National AIDS Policy Blog

  • Turning The Tide Together

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Work in Progress.

    Next week, thousands of scientists, researchers, government leaders, public health officials and advocates from around the world will convene in Washington for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012). It is the first time the United States will host this important conclave in 20 years.

    Much has changed in that time: new scientific discoveries, more effective treatments, and better and more effective ways to approach education and prevention of HIV/AIDS. People are living longer, healthier lives, and managing the disease. 

    HIV/AIDS education, prevention and medicines are working. But for me, the big question is: are people living with HIV/AIDS successfully working? And are we effectively addressing workplace issues so that they can bring their very best to the workplace? 

    I have always believed that work is more than a source of income. It’s a source of dignity. That’s why, as part of the week’s events, my department is co-hosting with the National Working Positive Coalition an Institute on HIV/AIDS and Employment on Saturday, July 28. We are gathering local, national and international HIV and disability stakeholders for a critical conversation about research and best practices that impact people living (and working) with HIV/AIDS.       

  • Trade and Access to Medicines: Working to Make the Two Go Hand in Hand

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from

    As the nineteenth International AIDS Conference kicks off in Washington, DC, experts and activists from around the world are bringing together their best ideas to fight this disease. As part of this conversation, some are taking a careful look at trade policy issues and so is the Obama Administration.

    Stakeholders on all sides of this issue recognize the need to balance trade’s long-standing role in the promotion of pharmaceutical innovation through intellectual property rights with the imperative to ensure access to life-saving medicines for people around the world.

    The Obama Administration is committed to developing policies that do both. We believe that we can increase access to medicines and support innovation for the development of new and improved drugs for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. And with input from the public, global health and development experts, innovative and generic drug companies, and Federal agencies that serve these sectors, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is working in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a major Asia-Pacific trade agreement now under negotiation – to get this balance right.

    We all know that innovation is essential to create new tools in the fight for global health, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, FDA, NIH and U.S. generic and innovator companies with voluntary licensing programs are demonstrating that innovation and access can thrive together with the right policies.

  • Toward AIDS 2012: Fighting Discrimination Against People with HIV/AIDS

    The Department of Justice is proud to play a lead role in eradicating discrimination against those living with HIV or AIDS. The Civil Rights Division has significant enforcement authority over the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973—Federal laws that protect individuals with HIV/AIDS from discrimination in employment, state and local government services, places of public accommodation, and housing.

    Since President Obama announced the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in July 2010, the Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, has taken unprecedented steps to enforce civil rights laws that protect the rights of persons living with HIV or AIDS and to educate the public on these issues:

    • In furtherance of its leadership role, the Division is working with community-based groups in order to educate individuals with HIV/AIDS about their rights under the law. In addition to speaking at numerous conferences and outreach events, we have met with AIDS Service Organizations in 20 cities throughout the country to educate direct service providers on the rights of their clients and to build important ground-level relationships. 
    • To increase our educational efforts and to make our work as transparent and as accessible as possible, last year we launched a website dedicated to our work fighting discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS: In addition, last month we posted a comprehensive Questions and Answerspublication explaining the rights that persons with HIV/AIDS have under the ADA, as well as the obligations that the ADA imposes on employers, businesses and non-profit agencies that serve the public, and State and local governments. 

  • AIDS 2012: Listening, Learning and Working Together to Help Turn the Tide

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from

    This week, many in the HIV community are finalizing plans for participation in AIDS 2012 – be it in person, via webcast, or via social media.

    I feel honored to join my federal colleagues to prepare for the U.S. government’s presence at this historic meeting. The current wave of activities reminds me of the preparation for, and participation in, my first International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2010, held in Vienna, Austria. That summer of 2010 was a time of great significance in our efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, both in the U.S. and around the world. President Obama had just released the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy that outlined a bold new vision for our response to the epidemic.

    I vividly recall several important scientific findings announced at AIDS 2010. The CAPRISA 004 study showed the antiretroviral-based vaginal microbicides to be safe and effective in reducing risks of new HIV infections among women by nearly 40 percent.  In addition, NIH announced the results of the iPrEx study, showing that a daily dose of HIV drugs reduced the risk of HIV infection among HIV-negative men who have sex with men by 44%, supporting the concept of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in a targeted population.

    During the conference, I was privileged to participate in an opening day session entitled, “Discussion on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy” and hear from many other leaders in the HIV community. A few of these conversations were recorded in these podcasts: a conversation with Dr. Jack Stein on Drug Control Policy and a conversation with PACHA members Helene Gayle and Phill Wilson.  I also recorded a podcast on HIV travel restrictions.

  • Today Is National HIV Testing Day

    To locate an HIV testing site near you, text your Zip Code to “KNOWIT” (566948), visit, 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

    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%.