The Trump Administration Might Actually Help Curb HIV Transmission (Or Not)

Illustration for article titled The Trump Administration Might Actually Help Curb HIV Transmission (Or Not)
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If you were planning to play the lottery or bet on the Knicks, you might want to get to it.

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There’s a decent chance the Trump administration may on the verge of doing something entirely right.

Days after Trump’s proclamation of a new initiative that would “eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years,” the Department of Health has unveiled an overview of the proposal, which would overhaul the government’s HIV/AIDS strategy, bringing it more in-line with models that have achieved success in New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C..

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By linking HIV-positive people to treatment and recommending PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, to at-risk individuals, programs in the aforementioned major cities have helped drive diagnosis rates down with their success.

“The president sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the epidemic, thanks to the most powerful HIV prevention and treatment tools in history,” Health Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. The plan will also bring “new tools that allow us to pinpoint where HIV infections are spreading most rapidly.”

HHS Assistant Health Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir laid out a plan for curbing new HIV infections by 75 percent within 5 years with a 90 percent goal for the coming decade.

‘We are going do diagnose all people as early as possible, we are going to treat the infection rapidly and effectively, we are going to protect those at highest risk, we are going to respond to any outbreaks with overwhelming force,” Giroir said.

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Stressing “biomedical interventions” beyond condoms, officials are looking to reduce the rate of new infections from 2017’s rate of 40,000 to somewhere near 4,000 by 2030. The plan also encourages the creation of a “local HIV task force” in the 7 states it has targeted along with San Juan and D.C. In 2016, more than 50 percent of all new infections happened in D.C., San Juan and 48 counties between Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

The proposal, which also called for an expanded role for NIH-funded research institutions embedded in universities nationwide, would be funded through the existing Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which subsidizes HIV medication and care for more than 500,000 people. 90 percent of Ryan White patients have an undetectable viral load., meaning they cannot transmit HIV to their partners.

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The program would also show a significantly increased level of federalistsl dedication to PrEP and treatment as prevention, or TasP. Both methods, which stop transmission between partners nearly 100 percent of the time, involve daily HIV medications.

Still, given the Administration’s penchant for double-talk, Democrats and HIV positive people are waiting for details.

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Corey Johnson, HIV-positive New York City Council speaker, laid out his concerns via Twitter.

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It is also worth noting that the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS has been inactive since January of last year after the White House fired its members. When coupled with the GOP’s efforts to remove HIV medication from Medicare coverage and the proposal’s lack of attention paid to the transgender community, skeptics are cautiously optimistic.

Frequent Trump opponent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, in a press release that “the president’s call for ending HIV transmission in America is interesting, but if he is serious about ending the HIV/AIDS crisis, he must end his assault on health care and the dignity of the LGBTQ community.”

Contributing Editor. When he's not pullin' up, he's usually jumpin' out. You can find him in the cut.

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DISCUSSION

“The president sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the epidemic, thanks to the most powerful HIV prevention and treatment tools in history,” Health Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

I do not believe for even a second that the president, himself, has even thought about HIV - he clearly doesn’t care for condoms - let alone to the extent of thinking of solving the epidemic.

But so long as he doesn’t get in the way, let’s the actual scientists do their work, and prevents conservatives in Congress from fucking with this, this is a noble goal and worthy task.

I’m actually not cautiously optimistic, at all, though. Because even when this president isn’t actively trying to fuck up good things, the good things that preceded him or that he’s begun all die on the vine from neglect or incompetence. So even in the best-case scenario where for some personal reason he’s tripped and fell into something good, the likelihood of him improving it are depressingly low.

Surprise me, Donnie.  Surprise me.