President Trump said during his State of the Union address he wants to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the United States within the next 10 years.
AIDS United, a non-profit organization, said in a statement that they "are cautiously encouraged" by Trump's promise, since "this administration's actions speak louder than words and have moved us in the wrong direction". The Miami area - where 1 in 1,000 people have HIV - has the highest rate of new diagnosis of any metro area in the country, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal government scientists have been coordinating for months on the new plan, which combines broader efforts to stem transmission of HIV with better treatment for people who are already infected.
"In the USA, 1 out of every 8 people infected with HIV does not know it", said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail.
In 2017, 38,739 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States and its territories.
"We have the tools to end new HIV infections in this nation, but they must be applied now", he added.
Briefing reporters ahead of Trump's State of the Union speech, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and senior public health officials said the campaign relies on fresh insights into where about half of new HIV cases occur - 48 out of some 3,000 USA counties, and Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and seven states with at-risk rural residents.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
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"We've never had that kind of 'This is the target, '" Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's pre-eminent AIDS warrior and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said to the AP.
"It showed we had a very geographically focused outbreak, that if we could augment the capacity of those 48 counties to respond to new infections we could drastically reduce the number of new infections", he said. But while most stakeholders say the administration's goal can be realized with the progress that has been made in treatments and prevention in the past two decades, they remain mostly skeptical of the White House's commitment to the effort. "You have to be strong in order to endure the pain, the frustration, the confusion".
In the United States, more than 1 million people aged 13 and older are living with HIV infection, with an estimated 15 percent unaware of their status, and approximately 56,000 new infections occur each year, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have contracted HIV and half of those have died.
Jacqueline Wilson of Jackson was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2006. They said reducing new HIV infections would require addressing problems that hinder access to healthcare for those with HIV, such as increasing health insurance coverage, reducing the impact of socio-economic health determinants, and eliminating existing stigmas of those living with the virus.
HIV cases in MS are among the highest in the nation.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a prevention pill and program that is up to 99 percent effective at preventing HIV infection when utilized consistently and correctly, is helping reduce the spread of HIV.
A recent proposal made by Trump on the reform of Medicare would dismantle most of protections for people living with serious conditions, like HIV and may threaten to "reignite the domestic epidemic as opposed to positioning us to end it", according to the AIDS United. "One of the things that concern us is that the Trump administration has done everything that it can to limit healthcare through trying to dismantle the ACA", said Dr. David Hardy, board chairman for the HIV Medicine Association.