The National HIV/AIDS Strategy

Friday, 03 September 2010 13:59 Written by  Essence McDowell

Every nine-and-a-half minutes one American becomes infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to the Office of National AIDS Policy. The epidemic is having a devastating effect on the nation. 

ribAs a result, President Obama has made HIV/AIDS prevention a top priority for his administration. To move the nation forward, the president unveiled the nation's first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS).

“We will marshal our resources and political will to confront a tragedy that is preventable,” said President Obama during the press conference where he disclosed information on the NHAS. “We believe that while HIV transmission rates are not as high as they once were, every new case is one case too many.”

The primary goals of the strategy include reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

The strategy is coupled with a Federal Implementation Plan. The implementation plan is a comprehensive agenda that details the steps to be taken by various federal agencies to carry out the priorities outlined in the strategy.

At a time when states are cash-strapped and cutting back on funding, an amendment has been sent to Congress to increase the president's FY 2011 budget. Information released by Jeffrey S. Crowley, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, details the $65 million request that is broken into two parts. Thirty million will be delegated for state AIDS drug assistance programs and $35 million will be targeted specifically for HIV prevention.

Alarming statistics published in the executive summary of the strategy highlight the necessity for the NHAS.

In the United States, approximately 56,000 people become infected each year. More than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV and nearly 600,000 Americans have been lost to the disease.

The infection risk for some Americans is more devastating than it is for others. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, black men and women account for more than 46 percent of the people living with HIV, though they represent merely 13 percent of the nation's population. These high-risk groups also include bisexual men of all races, Latinos and people struggling with addiction.

As a result, the implementation plan includes more than 100 directives to federal agencies, each of which include a variety of tactics to reduce new HIV infections by intensifying HIV prevention programs in communities where HIV is most concentrated, increasing awareness through education campaigns and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

Although it has received substantial public support, the NHAS will require the lasting commitment of state and local governments, businesses, faith communities, philanthropy, the scientific and medical communities, educational institutions, people living with HIV and others.

“Fighting HIV/AIDS in America and around the world will require more than just fighting the virus. It will require a broader effort to make more life more just and equitable to the people who inhabit this earth. That’s a cause to which I’ll be firmly committed,” said President Obama.

Essence McDowell

Essence McDowell

Essence McDowell is a freelance writer for GlossMagazineOnline and recent graduate of the Masters in Journalism program at DePaul University.

She can be contacted at