Trump Expected to Announce Plan to Stop Spread of H.I.V. in the U.S. by 2030
WASHINGTON — President Trump is expected to announce in his State of the Union speech a national commitment to end transmission of the virus that causes AIDS, with a goal of stopping its spread in this country by 2030.
A senior administration official with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s preparations confirmed the plan on Monday, in advance of the address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening.
Government scientists have been working for months on the plan, which calls for an expanded effort to prevent infections and to treat those with H.I.V.
It also calls for a greater use of certain medicines to reduce the chances that people at very high risk will become infected.
Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, has described the goal this way: “to become a country where the spread of H.I.V. has been effectively halted, because every American with H.I.V./AIDS is receiving treatment and every American at risk for H.I.V. is engaged in the right, proven prevention strategy.”
Treatment is prevention, officials say.
“People living with H.I.V. who take medicine every day as prescribed, keeping an undetectable viral load, have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting H.I.V. to their H.I.V.-negative partners,” Mr. Azar said in a recent speech.
“We have driven the incidence of H.I.V. infections down dramatically since the early 1990s,” Mr. Azar said, but new infections in recent years have remained at roughly the same level, around 40,000 a year.
“With the tools we have today,” he said, “we can do much better.”
Carl E. Schmid II, the deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute, a public policy and advocacy organization, said Mr. Trump’s plan sounded “very bold” and “could be one of his greatest achievements,” if the president and Congress provide enough funds.
The goal of halting the spread of H.I.V. by 2030 is realistic and achievable “if we increase testing, treatment and prevention,” Mr. Schmid said.
Carolyn McAllaster, a law professor at Duke University who specializes in H.I.V. policy and law, applauded the plan, first reported by Politico. But she said that people who research the disease hoped the administration would focus on groups of people who did not have access to health care or preventive treatment, including rural communities in the South where H.I.V. is stigmatized.
“A strategy to address the H.I.V. epidemic must avoid further stigmatizing already marginalized communities,” Ms. McAllaster said, “including the L.G.B.T.Q. community and racial minorities.”
Mr. Azar expressed a similar view last month at a conference on H.I.V. care and treatment. It is, he said, wrong to stigmatize those with H.I.V./AIDS, and “the stigma can be an even greater challenge when it intersects with the historic marginalization of particular populations, including African-Americans, Latinos and gay men.”
The president’s intention to address the issue in his State of the Union speech is the outcome of extensive work behind the scenes by a team of federal health officials.
The officials include Dr. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Dr. George Sigounas, the head of the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is responsible for community health centers and the Ryan White H.I.V./AIDS Program.
In his speech, Mr. Trump is also expected to highlight his efforts to bring down prescription drug prices and to combat the opioid epidemic.
He may also boast that he has struck down the heart of Obamacare and provided tens of billions of dollars in tax relief by working with Congress to eliminate the penalty for people who go without health insurance.
Critics said that Mr. Trump’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and to roll back its expansion of Medicaid last year were at odds with his current commitment to stopping the spread of H.I.V. Medicaid is the largest source of insurance coverage for people with H.I.V., estimated to cover at least 40 percent of those with the virus who are receiving care.
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