Today, on World AIDS Day, we take a moment to recognize those living with AIDS and the organizations dedicated to HIV/AIDS research, prevention, and treatment. There are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS today in the United States. Another 56,000 Americans contract HIV each year and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 21% of HIV-positive people don’t know that they are infected. That means that, of those who are currently HIV-positive, one in five are living their lives unaware that they are carrying the disease. In a recent proclamation, President Obama recognized the world’s struggle to combat the deadly HIV/AIDS virus and the Administration’s commitment to the cause:
Our Nation joins the world in celebrating the extraordinary advancements we have made in the battle against HIV and AIDS, and remembering those we have lost. Over the past three decades, brave men and women have fought devastating discrimination, stigma, doubt, and violence as they stood in the face of this deadly disease. Many of them would not be here today, but for the dedication of other persons living with HIV, their loved ones and families, community advocates, and members of the medical profession. On World AIDS Day, we rededicate ourselves to developing a national AIDS strategy that will establish the priorities necessary to combat this devastating epidemic at home, and to renewing our leadership role and commitments abroad.
The President continued by discussing the national AIDS strategy:
Tackling this disease will take an aggressive, steadfast approach. My Administration is developing a national HIV/AIDS strategy to bolster our response to the domestic epidemic, and a global health initiative that will build on [President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] PEPFAR's success. We will develop a strategy to reduce HIV incidence, improve access to care, and help eliminate HIV-related health disparities. We have already ensured that visitors to our shores living with HIV are not marginalized and discriminated against because of their HIV status. We have also secured the continuation of critical HIV/AIDS care and treatment services. Today, we recommit ourselves to building on the accomplishments of the past decades that have dramatically changed the domestic and global HIV/AIDS landscape.
The Administration’s commitment to combating HIV/AIDS was also seen in yesterday’s announcement by leading government and White House officials that the blog post by Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, provides details on this momentous event.
Government agencies are getting their workforces involved in World AIDS Day through events, including: an employee fair at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that highlights volunteerism with HIV/AIDS organizations; HIV/AIDS training for employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who are interested in volunteering at Atlanta AIDS Service organizations; and a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) employee training highlighting the impact of FDA approved HIV drugs worldwide.
And of course, innovative new media initiatives provide the opportunity for you to get involved: