US to release new national HIV/AIDS strategy

US to release new national HIV/AIDS strategy

The White House is to unveil a new domestic HIV/AIDS strategy Tuesday aimed at reducing the number of fresh infections and warn the country against becoming complaisant about the epidemic, dpa reported.

The new strategy concentrates on prevention among high-risk populations such as homosexuals and African Americans.

"Unless we take bold actions, we face a new era of rising infections, greater challenges in serving people living with HIV, and higher health care costs," a statement about the new strategy said.

More than 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in five - or 21 per cent - of those living with HIV is unaware of his or her infection.

Despite increases in the total number of people living with HIV in the US in recent years, the annual number of new infections, however, has remained relatively stable. But new infections continue to occur at far too high a level, with an estimated 56,300 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year.

The CDC said that more than 18,000 people with AIDS still die each year in the US - the majority being gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. More than 576,000 people have died in the US since the epidemic began nearly three decades back.

The new US strategy is aimed at reducing the number of new infections by 25 per cent over the next five years, focusing HIV prevention efforts at the highest-risk populations, and increasing access to healthcare for people living with HIV.

"Our country is at a crossroads. Right now, we are experiencing a domestic epidemic that demands a renewed commitment, increased public attention, and leadership," says an introductory letter from President Barack Obama.

"We must undertake a more coordinated national response to the epidemic. The federal government can't do this alone, nor should it. Success will require the commitment of governments at all levels, businesses, faith communities, philanthropy, the scientific and medical communities, educational institutions, people living with HIV, and others."

African Americans, who represent approximately 12 per cent of the population, face the most severe burden HIV/AIDS burden, accounting for 46 per cent of people living with HIV and 45 per cent of new infections each year.

Latinos are also disproportionately impacted, CDC said. They represent 15 per cent of the population, but account for an estimated 17 per cent of people living with HIV and 17 per cent of new infections.

Noted in the strategy was that the "the public's sense of urgency associated with combating the epidemic appears to be declining." In 1995, 44 per cent of the public indicated that HIV/AIDS was the most urgent health problem facing the nation, compared to only 6 per cent in March 2009.

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