Biden administration’s HIV/AIDS strategy to recognize racism as a ‘public health crisis’

The Biden administration released a new HIV/AIDS strategy on Wednesday on the annual commemoration of World AIDS Day.

The strategy is meant to serve as a framework to guide the administration’s shaping of its policies, research, programs, and planning over the next few years.

The strategy also calls racism a “public health threat” that must be recognized and addressed in order to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to the framework, over generations “structural inequities have resulted in racial and ethnic health disparities that are severe, far-reaching, and unacceptable.”

In order to reduce the disparities in the incidence of HIV infections, the strategy calls for focusing on the needs of the populations that are disproportionately affected by supporting racial justice, combating HIV-related stigma, and providing leadership and employment opportunities for those with or at an increased risk of contracting HIV.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new HIV infections in the United States decreased about 8 percent from 2015 to 2019, but black and Latino populations, specifically bisexual and gay men within those categories, are still disproportionately affected.

While black people make up roughly 13 percent of the total U.S. population, that demographic accounted for over 40 percent of new infections, and despite making up 18.5 percent of the population, the Latino community accounted for nearly 25 percent of new infections. 

Worldwide, over 36 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses, including 700,000 in the U.S., since the onset of the epidemic more than 40 years ago.

In the U.S., around 1.2 million people are living with HIV with a total of 38 million fighting the disease globally. The Biden administration announced recently that it will be hosting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS replenishment conference next year. About a third, or $17 billion, of all donor contributions to the fund has been contributed by the U.S.




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