In honor of World AIDS Day on December 1, federal officials released statements and announced new initiatives in the fight against HIV/AIDs.
In the past four decades, an estimated 36 million people, including more than 700,000 in the United States, have died of AIDS-related illnesses, according to the White House.
To combat the HIV epidemic, the administration reestablished the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. It also released the National/AIDS Strategy for 2022 to 2025, with a goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by the year 2030.
“It’s a plan to make sure that the latest — the latest advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are available to everyone, regardless of their age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or other factors,” President Joe Biden said Wednesday.
“And, critically, this strategy takes on racial and gender disparities in our health system that for much too long have affected HIV outcomes in our country — to ensure that our national response is a truly equitable response,” he said.
The president also said the administration’s current budget request includes $670 million for the initiative to end the HIV epidemic.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also weighed in on World AIDS Day with a statement from Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, and Maureen M. Goodenow, PhD, Associate Director for HIV/AIDS Research and Director in the NIH Office of AIDS Research.
In the statement they said, “Here in the United States, HIV remains a major healthcare challenge that disproportionately affects marginalized groups, such as members of the Black/African-American and Latinx communities, women, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, and transgender women.”
Noting that antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the cornerstone of both HIV treatment and prevention, they said that other promising research efforts are underway to add to the arsenal of tools to combat the epidemic.
For example, long-acting ART (cabotegravir) delivered via monthly injection was approved in the United States earlier this year. Ongoing research suggests that future formulations could potentially extend the injection time to every 6 months to a year.
In addition, an investigational bNAb delivered intravenously once every eight weeks safely and effectively prevented acquisition of certain HIV strains when tested in two multinational clinical trials.
Vaccines are another future avenue of prevention. “Currently, the Phase 3 Mosaico/HPTN 706 HIV vaccine clinical trial is underway in the Americas and Europe with results expected in 2024. Lessons learned from highly effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccines also offer an encouraging path forward for HIV vaccine discovery by providing applications for new vaccine platforms, such as mRNA, and novel strategies for rapidly identifying vaccine targets. Additionally, promising outcomes utilizing bNAbs suggest it may be possible to achieve an HIV vaccine with a high level of efficacy—an almost inconceivable scientific possibility several years ago,” they said.