After 40 years of progress, it is time to end the HIV epidemic

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the first official report on AIDS on June 5, 1981, we are pausing to honor the more than 32 million people who have died of AIDS-related diseases globally, including 700,000 people in the United States.

Despite the progress we have made over four decades, HIV continues as a serious public health challenge globally. Fortunately, ending the HIV epidemic is now within our reach.

When we reflect on those we have lost to HIV and AIDS, and stand with the HIV community, we commit ourselves again to ending the HIV epidemic, continuing the work to be done, re-involving people with lived experience and a wide range of stakeholders from all sectors of society, and to revive our efforts to accelerate progress and ensure equality.

To move forward toward this goal, on May 28, 2021, the White House announced President Biden’s budget for the U.S. government for fiscal year 2022, which includes a request for $ 670 million for the continued implementation of End the HIV epidemic in the United States initiative (Marriage).

Right now, 38 million people – including 1.2 million here in the United States – are living with HIV. Although we still do not have a cure, we have made tremendous progress. Biomedical and scientific research advances have led to the development of HIV testing, many successful HIV treatments, prevention strategies and improved care for people living with HIV.

Today, people with HIV who know their status take HIV medication as prescribed, and can live a long healthy life and have virtually no risk of transmitting HIV to others.

In addition, prevention tools that include pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP, and injection service programs make a person’s risk of getting HIV significantly lower when they have access to these tools. National HIV efforts have taken us from a peak of 130,000 HIV infections annually in the United States in the mid-1980s to 34,800 in 2019.

New data from the CDC show that we in the US have made significant improvements in both viral suppression rates among people with HIV and the number of HIV-negative people who have been prescribed PrEP. In 2019, 66% of people diagnosed with HIV were virally repressed, an increase from 60% in 2015. In addition, almost 23% of those who could benefit from PrEP were prescribed it in 2019, an increase from 3% in 2015.

Together, we will continue our approach to society as a whole and engage populations most disproportionately affected by HIV. In the United States, this includes continued implementation of EHE and a focus on gay and bisexual men, blacks and Latinos, transgender women, and those living in the southern United States.

We have made remarkable progress in preventing and treating HIV in the United States and around the world, and these advances are built on the shoulders of the early pioneers of the modern AIDS movement, who gave their hearts, their souls and many their lives, so we can end the HIV epidemic.

I am excited to engage across the Biden-Harris administration and with partners from all sectors of society to take the crucial steps needed to end the HIV epidemic around the world.

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