In his final State of the Union Address, President Obama told Congress, “Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria — something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.” HIV experts applauded the President’s elevation of HIV/AIDS in the month preceding his annual budget request but had to wait to learn what exactly the President would propose to Congress. On February 9, 2016, President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget, proposing a record $4.1 trillion spending plan, including new funding for HIV prevention.
Public programs, insurance programs, and other initiatives providing PrEP medication assistance are essential to reducing new HIV infections in the United States. Recent estimates of new HIV infections demonstrate that HIV continues to be a severe problem in the United States. Although new cases of HIV infection have dropped by 19 percent in the last decade due to declines among several populations, including heterosexuals, people who inject drugs, and African Americans, among whom African American women had the steepest decline, the statistics among gay and bisexual men and transgender women have not improved the same degree. New HIV infections significantly increased in the last decade among Black and Latino gay and bisexual men before leveling off in 2010. Young Black gay and bisexual men had the steepest increase in HIV diagnoses but have had a 2 percent decline since 2010.
The recent five-year trends coincide with the launch of the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) in 2010. The President’s budget offers promise for further progress through continued implementation of the NHAS, which was updated last year to guide the Nation’s efforts through 2020. This is an exciting time for the national response to HIV/AIDS, and investment in PrEP and other highly effective prevention approaches could accelerate progress toward the NHAS’s goals. Investment in PrEP is just one piece in a boarder budget that HIV experts will analyze more closely in the coming weeks. For now, it is important to recognize that expanding access to PrEP is key to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.
The views reflected in this expert column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.