Our National Strategy and the Road to Durban
Summary: Get a sneak peak at ONAP's thoughts on AIDS 2016 in Durban and the upcoming anniversary of the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
Nearly a year ago, July 30, 2015, we released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020, which is our nation's roadmap for a comprehensive response to HIV in the United States. In the last year, we developed and released:
- The Strategy's Federal Action Plan for 2016-2020, which documents agency commitments to high-impact, collaborative activities that will move us towards the goals of the Strategy;
- The Community Action Plan Framework to help other types of agencies, such as community-based organizations and health care delivery organizations, align their work with the Strategy; and
- The Indicator Supplement, which documents how the indicators are measured and annual progress tracked.
Given that we have the tools that can be brought to bear to make a significant impact on the epidemic, the Strategy serves as a guide on bringing programs to scale and adopting policies that support its four pillars:
- Widespread HIV testing and linkage to care;
- Broad support for people living with HIV to remain engaged in care;
- Universal viral suppression among people living with HIV;
- Full access to PrEP for those for whom it is appropriate and desired.
The anniversary of the Strategy also is a time to assess the progress we are making to reach the 2020 targets for the indicators used to monitor the Strategy. We expect to release updated data on or around the Strategy's anniversary.
Recognizing that it will take all of us to achieve our indicator targets and the Strategy's goals, we emphasize that the Strategy is a national plan, not just a Federal plan. As we approach 1-year anniversary of the updated Strategy, I encourage you to review the Strategy again and see where you and your organization, agency, or network have made changes to align with the Strategy priorities and to celebrate your accomplishments. ONAP works every single day with our Federal and community partners to implement the Strategy, and this anniversary is an opportunity for us all to reflect on what more we can do better or differently to reach our national goals.
In mid-July, many in the HIV community in the United States and around the world with gather in Durban, South Africa, for the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016). I'm proud to help represent the United States and our own unique HIV response this year.
This year's conference is billed as a "Return to Durban." The 2000 Conference, also held in Durban, was the first to be held in southern Africa. I was fortunate to attend and present my research. We heard from people on treatment that they were living longer, healthier lives. Encouraged by these developments, advocates launched the treatment access era. I remember feeling that we were making history at that conference. The sense that we were on the cusp of making a significant impact on HIV was palpable. Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa (and one of my personal heroes), gave the closing plenary. He reminded us of the need to move beyond rhetoric and to act:
In the face of the grave threat posed by HIV/AIDS, we have to rise above our differences and combine our efforts to save our people. History will judge us harshly if we fail to do so now, and right now.
His impassioned words -- so relevant then -- continue to resonate today. So, just as we consider the Strategy's anniversary as a time to assess progress and accomplishments, we can use the return to Durban as a time to reflect on how far we've come since 2000, how far we have yet to go and how we'll get there. I am looking forward to hearing about all the ways the Strategy is being implemented in the United States by Federal, state, tribal, and local governments; agencies; and organizations as well as gathering lessons learned from other countries about what has been successful in their responses.
Amy Lansky, Ph.D., M.P.H., is director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, The White House.