Trump administration names NY counties in HIV initiative but impact unclear

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 8, 2019

In his State of the Union address, President Trump promised that his administration would try to end the transmission of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. William Brangham learns more from Jon Cohen of Science Magazine and Carlos del Rio of Emory University School of Medicine about the attainability of this goal, the practical and political challenges and what could help.

Trump's bold statement in his second State of the Union address Tuesday first triggered words of hope from America's embattled front-line groups that fight the deadly disease. But after the dust had settled, pundits started forcing the president's hand. About a third of new HIV infections happen in people 15 to 25 years old, according to the World Health Organization.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Miami-Dade and Orange counties led the country in new HIV cases in 2017. Through the plan announced Wednesday, the Ryan White program will increase its capacity to provide HIV care and treatment for people newly diagnosed with HIV and those living with HIV who are not now retained in care, as well as work with program recipients to expand evidence-based interventions for maintaining care and viral suppression. Advocates say President Donald Trump's goal is achievable, but it will take more than just an increased push for more medications.

'This effort can not move existing resources from one public health program and repurpose them to end HIV without serious consequences to our public health system, ' Michael Fraser, CEO of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said in a statement. Today, there are over 1.1 million people living with HIV and almost 40,000 new diagnoses each year.

AIDS has no cure, but daily doses of antiretroviral medications have allowed victims to live relatively long and healthy lives. The announcement was eerie and surreal, but once the absurdity of this president asking Congress "to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years" sank in, the reality of the opportunity at hand became clearer.

'We've never had that kind of 'This is the target, ' said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's pre-eminent AIDS warrior and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Now the Director of Marin Health and Human Services, Dr. Colfax will assume his new position in mid-February.

Projections from the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) say the federal budget deficit will reach 1 trillion US dollars in 2019, roughly 101 billion dollars more than previously projected. Financial details of the new AIDS initiative are expected next month.

The people most at risk include men who have sex with men, minorities, particularly African-Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives.

Today, on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Ryan Health is launching the campaign "Ryan Health Equality: Stonewall 50" to promote health equity for LGBTQ communities of color and build on its community-driven efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Based on what we have seen so far, it seems as if a good deal of the administration's plan is reflective of the community-driven roadmap to end the HIV epidemic in the 2025 that was developed by AIDS United and the Act Now: End AIDS coalition and endorsed by over 250 HIV service organizations late past year.

"The barriers to ending AIDS have always been a lack of investment in outreach and access", said James Hamblin, author of "If Our Bodies Could Talk". "Until now, his words have worked at nearly every turn to fuel HIV's spread", Hamblin said. Trump's ten-year plan to fight against world's most unsafe disease will be a game changer for the Trump Administration because they haven't shown any vital importance to health sectors.

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