Since 1981 we have lost more than 700,000 lives from HIV. Over the next decade more than 400,000 lives could be affected with HIV. Today about 1 million Americans live with HIV, and approximately 40,000 people are infected each year.
These numbers are staggering. We know that in our lifetime we will face many disease threats. Thankfully we now live in a time where we have the knowledge, treatment and technology to eliminate many diseases, including HIV.
Last week, President Trump announced at the State of the Union Address that the HIV epidemic in the United States would be eliminated within 10 years. This plan hinges on a multi-agency collaboration, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Indian Health Service. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will oversee this comprehensive initiative.
This coordinated effort will focus on at-risk populations. In total, the initiative will target 48 counties along with Washington, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico, and seven states where HIV transmission is high. The goal is to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent in five years and by 90 percent in 10 years. Efforts will center on early diagnosis, treatment for those infected, protection for those at risk such as the preventive drug PrEp (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and respond quickly to new outbreaks.
According to CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, “CDC is proud to have been part of the fight to prevent HIV from the very beginning, and we are honored to continue to work with our HHS colleagues on this important initiative… The time to end the HIV epidemic is now. I have always believed in seeing the possible. Embracing the possible, we will do it together.”
As a physician who has diagnosed and treated patients with HIV, I am encouraged by the opportunity this initiative brings. Just 10 years ago, it would have been difficult to believe we could eliminate HIV in the United States by 2030. Today, however, our nation is charting a path to do just that.
We are proud to work with CDC and excited to see their team playing a central role in this elimination effort. Our staff at the CDC Foundation looks forward to supporting and extending CDC’s work when called upon to tackle this critical mission.