Biden to propose stepping up U.S. fight against AIDS with research, treatment

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden announces the nomination of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for a second four-year term in Washington, U.S., November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday will unveil an updated national strategy to combat the AIDS epidemic by boosting money for research, increasing access to treatment, and recognizing the role racism plays in inequitable access to medical services.

The third update to the national AIDS strategy since 2010 sets a lofty target of ending the U.S. HIV epidemic by 2030, including a 75% reduction in new HIV infections by 2025 and a 90% reduction by 2030.

HIV/AIDS has killed more than 36 million people around the world – including more than 700,000 in the U.S. – since the virus was first identified in 1981.

During the 2020 campaign, Biden promised to update the national strategy, which was started in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

“President Biden is honoring that commitment by releasing the new national HIV/AIDS strategy on World AIDS Day and providing a framework and a direction for the administration’s policies, research, programs and planning,” a senior administration official said.

Biden is announcing the plan even as the world struggles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 48 million people globally, including more than 700,000 in the United States. It is another illustration of the difficulties world leaders face in stamping out disease.

The new AIDS strategy, outlined in a 98-page document, seeks to address social issues that contribute to HIV risk and health outcomes. It encourages reform of state laws that criminalize HIV transmission and adds a new focus on opportunities to engage the private sector to help fight the HIV epidemic.

Biden’s budget request included $670 million for continued implementation of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative — $267 million more than previous levels.

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