New US Strategy to Fight HIV, AIDS Bared

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is announcing a new national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS on Tuesday, aimed at stopping new infections and increasing access to care for people living with the virus.

The strategy calls for reducing the rate of new HIV infections by 25 percent over the next five years, and for getting treatment to 85 percent of patients within three months of their diagnosis. Obama said the strategy will help the US to become a nation where infections are rare and all Americans can receive high-quality care that is free from stigma or discrimination.

''This is a moment of opportunity for the nation,'' Obama says in a report to be released Tuesday. ''Now is the time to build on and refocus our existing efforts to deliver better results for the American people.''

Administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and domestic policy chair Melody Barnes, will unveil the strategy at the White House on Tuesday. Obama was to discuss the strategy at a reception honoring the work of the HIV and AIDS community later in the day.

Widely considered to be the nation's first comprehensive national strategy on HIV and AIDS, the report is the result of more than a year of discussions between the administration, state and local officials, advocacy groups and the private sector. While the strategy does call for improved coordination among federal agencies, it doesn't identify any new government funding to implement the strategy.

Approximately 56,000 people in the US become infected with HIV each year, and more than 1.1. million Americans are living with HIV, according to the White House. The new policy will concentrate HIV prevention efforts at the highest-risk populations, which include gay and bisexual men, as well as black Americans, far more than is done today, said Chris Collins of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, which was among the groups that met with administration officials as the new policy firmed up over the last few months. …