NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. health officials have updated their strategic plan for fighting AIDS, setting new goals for reducing infections and deaths.
The new document “seizes on the rapid shifts in science as we’ve learned more about this disease,” said President Barack Obama, in a statement.
The plan unveiled Thursday updates one issued five years ago. Developments since then include new diagnostic tests, a daily pill for infection prevention and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act – increasing the number of people with health insurance.
However, new infections with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, have stayed about the same, at around 50,000 a year. Diagnosed infections have dropped in women and heterosexuals, but climbed in gay and bisexual men.
The updated document adds some new goals for 2020, like reducing the death rate among HIV-diagnosed people by at least one-third, and increasing the percentage who control their infection though medication.
It also reports on progress toward the goals that had been set for 2015. Health statistics for this year are not compiled yet. But a look at 2012 and 2013 data suggests slight progress in some categories, like the proportion of people with HIV who were linked to specialized medical care within one month of diagnosis – from 70 percent to nearly 73 percent.
But by some measures, the situation got worse. The proportion of people with diagnosed HIV who are homeless rose slightly from 2000 to 2012, to more than 8 percent.
Since AIDS was first identified more than 30 years ago, medicines have changed it from a death sentence to a chronic threat. About 1.2 million Americans were living with HIV in 2012, the most recent year for which that statistic is available.