Dec. 2 (UPI) — To commemorate World AIDS Day on Wednesday, President Joe Biden unveiled an updated national strategy to fight the disease — which includes the lofty goal of ending the epidemic in the United States by the start of the next decade.
The White House announced the “whole-of-society” strategy, which incorporates the latest data, prevalence and trends and expands the focus on addressing social determinants that influence HIV risks and outcomes.
“We are within striking distance of eliminating HIV transmission,” Biden said during remarks at the White House on Wednesday.
Officials said the 98-page plan will re-energize the administration’s commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.
It also encourages reforms for state-level HIV criminal laws and adds new focus to engaging the private sector to step up work to fight HIV and AIDS.
“It’s a plan to make sure that the latest advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment are available to everyone regardless of race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or other factors. It shouldn’t matter where you live in the country or how much you make,” Biden said.
The White House noted that more than 700,000 people have died of AIDS in the United States in the four decades since it was first discovered. The worldwide figure is 36 million. About 1.2 million Americans are estimated to be living with HIV.
“Critically, this strategy takes on racial and gender disparities in our health system that for much too long have affected HIV outcomes in our country — to ensure that our national response is a truly equitable response,” Biden said.
A senior administration official told reporters that Biden “pledged to update and implement the nation’s comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy to ‘aggressively reduce new HIV cases while increasing our access to treatment and eliminating inequitable access to medical and support services.'”
“The strategy gives us that framework for the directions and policies and also reflects President Biden’s commitment to accelerate and strengthen the national response to ending the HIV epidemic,” the official siad.
Biden said he was confident Congress would approve the request, stating HIV/AIDS is an issue that “has a long history of bipartisan support” and crediting advocates attending the speech for their work.
“It’s because of all of you, and the dedication of scientists and activists around the world, that we’ve been able to dramatically reduce new HIV transmissions and make individuals with HIV today lead long and healthy lives,” Biden said. “And you know, it’s because of the persistence and resilience of the HIV community that we’ve changed so much about where we approach healthcare research and equitable access to services and even the relationship between patients and health care providers.”
The United States will host the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference in late 2022. The event, which focuses on eradicating AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is held only once every three years.
At the last conference in Lyon, France, in 2019, the Global Fund received a record $14 billion in pledges. The United States is the fund’s largest donor and has provided $17 billion since the partnership began 20 years ago.
“As a founding member … the United States will ensure that the establishment of the Global Fund and the replenishment serve to accelerate the progress, again, to end the HIV epidemic by the year 2030,” the official said.