On July 13, 2010, President Barack Obama unveiled the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. Speaking at a White House press conference and reception for members of the HIV/AIDS community, the president said, "We have learned what we can do to stop the spread of the disease. We've learned what we can do to extend the lives of people living with it. So the question is not whether we know what to do, but whether we will do it."
The plan focuses on several areas, including resource allocation to the most heavily affected populations, science-based policy, and greater coordination of prevention, testing, and care. The document opens with an overarching goal: "The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance will have unfettered access to high-quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination."
The plan was informed by more than 4,000 people who participated in public discussions hosted by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) or submitted comments to the ONAP website. Input came from medical and social science experts, AIDS care and service providers, and HIV positive people and advocates from across the country.
"This represents the work of thousands of individuals whose leadership and input over the last three years helped it take shape," said San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Judith Auerbach, a cofounder of the Coalition for a National AIDS Strategy. "Now it is up to all of us to ensure its full funding and implementation and hold our government accountable for progress."
Advocates were generally pleased with the content of the strategy, but disappointed that it did not come with significant new funding -- versus reallocation of existing money -- for its implementation.
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy and accompanying materials are available online at AIDS.gov.
Liz Highleyman (email@example.com) is a freelance medical writer based in San Francisco.