The President’s February State of the Union had many of us on the edge of our seats. Would he finally announce a State of Emergency, or did he have other plans?
Ultimately, Trump decided against a state of emergency (at least for the moment), but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have anything important to say. In fact, the President also announced a new initiative and promise to end HIV transmissions before 2030. We’ll tell you what we know about this important new cause and what he shared.
- The new pledge focuses on tackling a longstanding issue in the United States: ongoing HIV transmission. While some believe HIV is limited to homosexual men and/or drug users, this is largely a myth. The disease can and does affect straight men, women and children as well.
- Statistics from 2015 reveal that over a million people live with HIV/AIDS at any given time. Around 40,000 new cases are diagnosed every single year. Nearly half of all new cases diagnosed stem from individuals living in the South.
- President Trump’s initiative seeks to focus on 20 “critical hotspot” communities, mostly in the southern USA, where HIV rates remain high. While there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, effective treatment and early diagnosis can significantly reduce transmission rates. The hope is that, with a stronger focus on intervention, the decline of new diagnoses will accelerate until there are no new cases to diagnose.
- Of note is the fact that the President has significant bipartisan support from leaders and everyday citizens alike on this matter. In fact, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield both champion the same cause in relation to the initiative and everyday management of America’s health.
- Redfield plays an important role in the strategic development of the plan. A newcomer to the CDC, Trump first pulled him in to lead the organization late last year. At the time, he told CDC leaders that it was possible to eliminate AIDS by 2025 by improving existing public health tools (like testing and access to condoms).
- Some members of the far-right have also criticized Trump for supporting HIV research, which relies on fetal tissue for development. However, a move to end HIV/AIDS transmission is not necessarily a clear indication of support for fetal tissue research. HIV/AIDS Testing, access to treatment, and education is also key.