The following letter was released by Dr. Jonathan H. Mermin and Dr. Eugene McCray of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention in celebration of World AIDS Day 2016.
December 1 is World AIDS Day, a day to unite in the fight against HIV, support people living with HIV, and honor those who have lost their life. This year’s theme, Leadership. Commitment. Impact., asks each of us to strengthen our commitment to stop HIV using the most up-to-date, evidence-based HIV interventions, prevention tools, and testing options available. In 2015, 39,513 people received a diagnosis of HIV, and over 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States.
Recent trends in HIV diagnoses show some promising signs of progress. From 2010 to 2014, the annual number of HIV diagnoses in the United States declined by 9%, driven by declines among heterosexuals and people who inject drugs (PWID). Diagnoses stabilized among gay and bisexual men overall, though trends varied by age, race and ethnicity. African Americans and Latinos continue to be disproportionally affected by HIV, compared with other races and ethnicities.
Despite gains in HIV prevention among PWID, the prescription opioid epidemic and increases in heroin use may threaten this success. PWID are at high risk for HIV and viral hepatitis if they share injection equipment. Today, we have options to help ensure that all PWID have access to prevention services. According to a new edition of CDC’s Vital Signs, released this week,
- PWID account for 9% of HIV diagnoses in the United States, though they make up only 0.3% of the population.
- Last year, only 1 in 4 PWID (in 22 US cities) got all their syringes from sterile sources such as syringe services programs (SSPs) and pharmacies.
- SSPs that are comprehensive not only provide PWID with better access to sterile injection equipment, but also medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder, HIV and hepatitis testing, and other HIV prevention options like condoms, behavioral interventions, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP, a daily pill that can prevent HIV).
States and local communities now have the opportunity to use federal funds under some circumstances to support SSPs. CDC guidance is available for partners interested in implementing SSPs, where permitted by local law.
On World AIDS Day and every day, [the] CDC is dedicated to reducing new HIV infections among all populations and improving health outcomes for those who are living with HIV. Current activities include
- Awards of at least $330 million each year since 2012 ($343.7 million in 2015) to health departments to direct resources to the populations and geographic areas of greatest need and prioritize the HIV prevention strategies that will have the greatest impact.
The Capacity Building Assistance for High-Impact HIV Prevention national program that provides training and technical assistance for health departments, community-based organizations, and health care organizations to help them better address gaps in the HIV continuum of care and provide high-impact prevention to HIV-negative persons.
The Act Against AIDS initiative that raises awareness about HIV testing and prevention through campaigns and partnerships. For example,
Let’s Stop HIV Together is a campaign that raises awareness and fights stigma among all Americans and provides stories about people living with HIV.
Doing It is a national testing and prevention campaign that encourages all adults to know their HIV status and make HIV testing a part of their regular health routine.
Partnering and Communicating Together (PACT) to Act Against AIDS is a partnership with organizations such as AIDS United and I Choose Life to raise HIV awareness among populations disproportionately affected by HIV.
Thank you for your hard work and commitment to prevent HIV. Through our commitment, collaboration, and coordination, we can continue to reduce HIV incidence for all Americans and help all people with HIV live long, healthy lives.
Jonathan H. Mermin, MD, MPH
RADM and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS/Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/nchhstp
Eugene McCray, MD
Director, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/hiv