WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As frontline HIV care providers, the members of the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) have long known that the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed this fact with the release of its revised and more accurate estimation of the number of new HIV infections, which now state that 56,300 new HIV cases occurred in 2006, not 40,000 as was previously estimated. The U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic in fact is worse than originally thought -- and more action is needed immediately to reverse the tide.
As a nation, we need a comprehensive national effort NOW, one that increases and targets resources to expand and enhance HIV prevention efforts, implements routine HIV testing in all health care settings, increases and ensures access to care and treatment for all HIV-infected Americans, and halts the workforce trend that could leave thousands of Americans without HIV-expert health care providers.
As an organization, AAHIVM is asserting our unique leadership role in this national effort:
- Because funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs is flat-funded or cut, we are bolstering our advocacy for sound public policy that promotes HIV care access and excellence for our patients;
- Because 25 percent of those infected in the United States do not know they are infected, we are educating colleagues and lawmakers about the the importance of routine HIV testing and its impact on affecting behavior choices to minimize HIV's spread; and
- Because attrition from retirement and/or burnout threatens the national pool of expert HIV care providers, we developing initiatives that encourage medical students and residents to pursue and maintain careers in HIV medicine.
HIV/AIDS infects and affects all of us ... our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors -- our fellow Americans. We must heed this wake up call to expand and enhance our work to stop HIV's relentless spread, and to ensure the highest quality care to Americans with HIV.