Earlier this month over 2,000 government employees, stakeholders, staff from community organizations, consumers, and advocates working in HIV participated in a webinar, "The State and Future of HIV/AIDS" to recognize 30 years of AIDS. The following federal leaders briefly spoke:
- Dr. Maggie Czarnogorski (VA) noted the current context of both the 30 years of AIDS milestone and enhanced federal collaboration stemming from the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
- Mr. David Vos gave an overview of HUD’s work on housing for people living with HIV.
- Dr. Ronald O. Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases at HHS, outlined the Strategy's goals and told us how all of our society must work to reduce stigma and discrimination related to HIV.
- In discussing progress in HIV/AIDS research, Dr. Carl Dieffenbach (National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH) noted "This past year has seen significant improvements and breakthroughs in the area of HIV prevention with the first positive signal from an HIV vaccine, a validation of pre-exposure prophylaxis...and the first sign of a positive result in a microbicide trial..." Three key research goals exist: 1) to continue to optimize the treatment and care of HIV-infected individuals, 2) to reduce new infections (through development and implementation of evidence-based prevention methods), and 3) to cure HIV infection.
- Dr. Deborah Parham Hopson reiterated HRSA's expectation for the Ryan White Program's continuation and discussed a recent additional allocation for the ADAP Program.
- Mr. Richard Sorian, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at HHS, discussed how the Affordable Care Act is helping people living with HIV, and will continue to do so.
- In reviewing the state of the domestic epidemic, Dr. Jonathan Mermin (CDC) said "in some ways, HIV is a quintessential issue of disparity."
- Mr. Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and partnerships between domestic and international HIV programs.
What did we hear from YOU?
These leaders (as joined by Mr. Thomas Walsh, Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator) then answered many participant questions. Here are just two of the questions we heard:
"How can we meet the goals of the Strategy amidst funding challenges?"
Mr. Crowley replied in part "We really need to target our resources effectively to the communities and populations at greatest risk."
"How is the federal government responding to ADAP waiting lists?"
Among Dr. Parham Hopson's comments: "We try to make sure that the people who are living with HIV and are waiting for the ADAP program do have access to medications. We will be giving out the the $50 million I mentioned...to states that have waiting lists or cost containment strategies in place for their ADAP program."
What was an overall message from the webinar?
Mr. Vos told us that addressing HIV and AIDS "involves all of us, that it’s not just the government but also every segment of society needs to be part of our response. And, fortunately now we have a plan that helps us organize the parts to get that better result. That’s a big change. Another is that there are benefits already changing for people with HIV/AIDS. So everyone living with HIV should be part of a care system."