On Tuesday, President Trump will reportedly announce a ten-year plan to eradicate HIV in the United States during his State of the Union speech.
As Politico reports, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Center for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield endorsed the plan which will target areas with the most HIV infections.
More than 1 million Americans have HIV, according to the CDC, and about 40,000 are newly infected every year.
The State of the Union historically has been a platform for presidents to make bold public health proclamations — many of which haven’t come to pass. Former President Barack Obama used his final address in January 2016 to call for an end to cancer. While the cancer rate has continued to decline, more than 600,000 U.S. residents were estimated to have died from cancer last year.
Under Trump’s HIV strategy, health officials would spend the first five years focusing on communities across roughly 20 states where the most HIV infections occur. The ultimate goal is to stop new infections over a 10-year period, said two officials, with some parallels to how the Trump administration is targeting the opioid epidemic.
Brett Giroir, the HHS assistant secretary for health who’s overseen much of the Trump administration’s opioid work, has also been tapped to steer the rollout of the HIV strategy.
In 2018, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D. praised President Trump for signing a 5-year extension to the HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003.
This marks another significant moment in the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s (PEPFAR) history of lifesaving work. In the past 15 years, PEPFAR has enjoyed tremendous bipartisan support from eight U.S. congresses and has been supported by three consecutive U.S. presidents. Since its inception, PEPFAR has saved over 17 million lives, prevented millions of HIV infections, and transformed the global AIDS response from death and despair to life and hope.
I thank President Trump for his strong support and leadership of PEPFAR, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for their unwavering commitment to the program, and the American people for their compassion and generosity that make PEPFAR possible.
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.