Nearly 30 years ago our nation was in crisis mode in confronting the disease we now know as HIV-AIDS. Today, the progress made in confronting this global pandemic since it first surfaced in 1984 is astounding. We now understand so much more about the virus, which affects an estimated 34 million people worldwide. Advances have been made in HIV treatment, and there are laws in place to help protect people living with HIV. Since today is World AIDS Day, we’re also reflecting on the benchmarks made in U.S. public health in fighting HIV and AIDS.
Some noteworthy achievements were mentioned today in a Department of Health and Human Services blog post by Jimmy Kolker, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs and Jim Macrae, Acting Administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Among the achievements they cited were that more people living with HIV are getting care sooner and getting tested. Community Health Centers provided HIV testing to nearly 1.2 million people in 2014 — that is a 48 percent increase since 2010. Also, there has been tremendous progress in stopping transmission of the virus from the majority of mothers to newborns.
The blog also notes how passage of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, a comprehensive, groundbreaking law passed over 25 years ago, has helped spur this progress and improved the overall quality of HIV care. The law also contributed to the foundation in the global fight against HIV-AIDS, particularly in hard hit regions of the world where transmission rates are high and access to treatment is limited–Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
The authors note that, “We have a strong foundation, but we need to build quickly to reverse the epidemic…. and make the U.S.– and the world — a place where new HIV infections are rare and where every person has unfettered access to high-quality, life-extending care, a life of health and dignity, free from stigma and discrimination.”