President Trump will announce a plan to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States during his State of the Union, four sources told Politico.
The 10-year plan, championed by HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield, would, during the first five years, focus resources on combating the health crisis in the top 20 states where the most HIV infections occur. The goal is to end new cases of infection by 2030. The HHS is behind the push for Trump to speak on the issue on Tuesday night, but the speech has not been finalized and the White House declined comment.
The CDC estimates over 1.1 million people aged 13 and older are living with HIV in the United States, including an estimated 162,500 who do not yet know they are infected. In 2017, the latest year on file, just under 40,000 new HIV infections were reported in the country.
According to research published last year in Annals of Internal Medicine, while HIV infection rates are on the decline overall, they went up for Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men (MSM), as well as overall in MSM aged 25 to 34 years, as well as MSM aged 55 years and older. African-Americans also have higher than average rates of infection.
The new heads of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS were sworn in last week, after Trump fired the remaining members of the original group in late 2017. Prior to that, half had quit out of frustration.
The administration has diverted funds from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which offers support for those living with the illness, to cover the increased costs of detaining immigrant children, and twice requested cuts to PEPFAR, an initiative to fight the epidemic worldwide. He did, however, sign an extension to the program at the end of last year.
The Trump administration also quietly halted research that was closing in on a cure, by imposing a ban on scientists employed by the NIH from acquiring fetal tissue.
Trump reportedly asked Bill Gates on two separate occasions what the difference was between HPV and HIV, and said Haitians “all have AIDS” during an anti-immigration rant.