Cross-posted from the White House Briefing Room
Today, President Biden commemorated World AIDS Day and renewed the U.S. government’s bipartisan and decades-long commitment to ending the HIV epidemic at home and around the world. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted every aspect of the HIV/AIDS response, from prevention to treatment to research, the United States is redoubling efforts to confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic and achieve equitable access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment in every community—particularly for communities of color, adolescent girls and young women, and the LGBTQI+ community.
Forty years since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially reported the first cases of what later became known as AIDS, we mourn the loss of more than 36 million people—including 700,000 in the United States—who have died from AIDS-related illness. We honor the nearly 38 million people living with HIV, including 1.2 million in the United States. And we celebrate the remarkable gains we have made together in battling this disease.
Recognizing the urgency of this battle, the Biden-Harris Administration has worked to build on the progress of past years and promote American global health leadership while advancing strategies and policies to improve access to health services, address stigma and discrimination, achieve equity, support human rights, strengthen public health infrastructure, and ensure that the voices of those with HIV are central to our efforts. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then-Senator Biden proudly lead the reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has already saved more than 21 million lives, prevented millions of HIV infections, and supported at least 20 countries around the world to reach their HIV targets. President Biden remains deeply committed to maintaining American leadership as the world’s largest bilateral donor in global health.
Today the Biden-Harris Administration is taking several key steps to accelerate the fight against HIV/AIDS at home and abroad:
Releasing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. During the campaign, President Biden pledged to update and implement the nation’s comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy to “aggressively reduce new HIV cases, while increasing access to treatment and eliminating inequitable access to medical and support services.” Today, President Biden is honoring that commitment by releasing a new National HIV/AIDS Strategy to provide the framework and direction for the Administration’s policies, research, programs, and planning through 2025 and lead us toward ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. The new National HIV/AIDS Strategy:
- Incorporates the latest data on HIV incidence, prevalence and trends;
- Expands the focus on addressing the social determinants of health that influence an individual’s HIV risk or outcomes;
- Encourages reform of state HIV criminalization laws;
- Adds a new focus on opportunities to engage the private sector in novel and important ways in the nation’s work to end the HIV epidemic.
Hosting the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference. Today, President Biden underscored his commitment, in partnership with several key countries and institutions, to the United States hosting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Replenishment Conference in 2022. In November 2021, the Biden Administration endorsed the Global Fund’s new five-year strategy, Fighting Pandemics and Building a Healthier and More Equitable World, which places HIV/AIDS at the center of global efforts to strengthen health systems and respond to future health shocks. As a founding member of the Global Fund, the United States will ensure that twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the Global Fund and the replenishment serve to accelerate progress to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.
These announcements build on existing action the Administration has taken since taking office:
Reinstated the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. In his first six months in office, President Biden reestablished the White House Office of National AIDS Policy to coordinate efforts to reduce the number of HIV infections across our nation. This new office has brought an increased focus on efforts to end the HIV epidemic and fostered new partnerships across the federal government and with the private sector.
Awarded Significant Funding to Help Americans Access HIV Care and Support. In October, the Department of Health and Human Services announced $2.21 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding to HIV primary medical care, medication, and essential support services. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides care and treatment services to low-income people with HIV, serving approximately half of all Americans with diagnosed HIV.
Requested Unprecedented Investments to End HIV Epidemic Domestically. The President’s FY22 budget requested $670 million to support the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative—an all-in effort between the White House and federal agencies to reduce HIV diagnoses and AIDS-related deaths. Appreciating that access to stable housing helps individuals stay in medical care and remain adherent to medical treatment, the President’s budget also requested $450 million to provide housing assistance and supportive services for low income people with HIV—a $20 million increase over last year’s—for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS Program.
Diversified the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. President Biden added new members to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, representing racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities with the knowledge and expertise to help further inform our nation’s HIV response.
Invested American Rescue Plan Funds to Support PEPFAR. The Administration committed $250 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support PEPFAR in FY21, allowing the program to serve as the backbone of many global COVID-19 response efforts without sacrificing ongoing commitments to the HIV/AIDS response. This additional funding is helping local health systems deliver life-saving services and support for those most in need and is contributing to greater global health security.
Committed to Release a New Five-Year Strategy for PEPFAR in 2022 and Advance Efforts through Country Operational Plans. In keeping with our commitment to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal target of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, in early 2022, the U.S. will release a new five-year strategy for PEPFAR, laying out a bold vision for achieving sustained epidemic control of HIV by supporting equitable health services and solutions. In 2022, PEPFAR will continue to advance progress toward these goals through an emphasis on several core program and policy priorities, including accelerating the impact of HIV primary prevention; optimizing data-driven HIV testing strategies; improving care and treatment for those living with HIV; deepening efforts to support children, adolescent girls, and key populations; advancing gender equity and equality; and promoting and protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights—all key to advancing HIV efforts.
Announced Intent to Nominate Global HIV/AIDS Coordinator. In September, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Dr. John N. Nkengasong as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally at the Department of State, overseeing PEPFAR. If confirmed, Dr. Nkengasong would be the first person of African origin to hold the position.