Each year on World AIDS Day (December 1), we take time to reflect on our global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by remembering the millions of people we have lost over the four decades, celebrating our achievements over the past year and committing to work in even more inclusive and innovative ways in the year ahead.
The United States Government (USG) theme for World AIDS Day 2020 – Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact is particularly poignant this year as our HIV community has recently been challenged by COVID-19 and has often led the response to it in communities around the world. COVID-19 has not only forced us to adapt our response to HIV/AIDS in communities to ensure continuity of services, but has also heightened the urgency to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States and in the world.
The theme reminds us of how much we can achieve together when we focus on impact by using data to deliver high-quality, people-centered HIV prevention and treatment services to those who need them most. , challenging stigma and discrimination and empowering communities. It reaffirms the essential role of resilience, which enables individuals and communities to meet the challenge of HIV/AIDS even in times of adversity.
Globally, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Government has saved more than 18 million lives, prevented millions of HIV infections, and turned the epidemic from HIV/AIDS from crisis to control in more than 50 countries. With nearly 18 years of strong and sustained bipartisan support, PEPFAR has provided people-centered HIV services to millions of people in need, enrolling them on a continuum of care specific to their individual contexts as and as they evolve throughout their lives. We have significantly strengthened the capacity and resilience of partner country, community and local partner health and data systems to respond to HIV and other disease threats, including COVID-19. And we have forged strategic partnerships across all sectors to increase impact, innovation and sustainability.
Despite all that we have accomplished together, PEPFAR’s mission is not complete. Every day, and at every level of the program, we strive to save and improve more lives with every dollar we invest. That’s why PEPFAR remains widely regarded as one of the most compassionate, cost-effective, accountable, and transparent efforts in U.S. foreign assistance history.
At home, as USG looks to the next year of Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, and the launch of an updated national HIV strategic plan, the Office of Infectious Diseases and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) continues to work with partners to create and implement programs, tools and funding to help communities address HIV in their jurisdictions. On this World AIDS Day, we’re thrilled to officially launch the “I’m Ready” campaign featuring Ready, Set, PrEP program participants recounting their own personal journeys with PrEP and aiming to increase uptake. of PrEP and enrollment in the Ready, Set, PrEP program. Ready, Set, PrEP provides free PrEP to people without prescription drug coverage.
The IOPD is also excited to begin working with a broad group of stakeholders to plan and implement a nationwide campaign to highlight the importance of viral suppression – focusing on the 2nd pillar of the EHE campaign,” treat people living with HIV quickly and effectively to achieve a sustainable viral load”. suppression.” This collaborative campaign will include input from community experts to identify innovative public health messages, replicate community best practices, increase HIV treatment awareness, and support service options in the face of social and structural barriers.
As the World AIDS Day theme reminds us, the HIV community has always been resilient, overcoming obstacles and challenges and constantly adapting our approaches to have life-saving impact.
On this day, as we reflect on those we have lost to HIV/AIDS and also to COVID-19, we renew our commitment to work with our large and diverse stakeholder communities to continue to bring about positive change in United States and around the world.