President Obama signed an executive order entitled, “HIV Care Continuum Initiative” that will create a national movement and federal involvement in the war on HIV/AIDS.
This EO will “coordinate Federal efforts in response to recent advances regarding how to prevent and treat HIV infection. The Initiative will support further integration of HIV prevention and care efforts; promote expansion of successful HIV testing and service delivery models; encourage innovative approaches to addressing barriers to accessing testing and treatment; and ensure that Federal resources are appropriately focused on implementing evidence-based interventions that improve outcomes along the HIV care continuum.”
Enforcement of mandatory HIV testing for “all individuals ages 15 to 65 years” will be overseen by the US Preventative Services Task Force, in coordination with the Department of health and Human Services (DHHS).
Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), remarked: “Actions speak louder than words. We have had other grand announcements from the White House on AIDS that turned out to be empty words. If indeed the President has finally understood the importance of this issue and will proactively address our concerns, then we will applaud that effort, but not until then. We have wasted 4 1/2 years trying to educate this president about the tragedy that is AIDS in the world. The war against AIDS has not been won – keep your promise. Mr. President play a real leadership role here and abroad – your legacy depends on it.”
In 2010, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy For the United States (NHAS) was released with the goal of:
• Reducing HIV incidence
• Increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes
• Reducing HIV-related health disparities
The Obama administration has taken pharmaceutical corporations and investors contributions as defining factors to create a “broad range of perspectives” on policy as directed from the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP).
ONAP is tasked with creating “a national strategy is a concise plan” that will become “a document that provides a roadmap for policymakers and the general public.”
ONAP has taken steps within the public sector to facilitate “community discussions” in cities across the nation to formulate needs of those afflicted with HIV/AIDS; such as medical care and housing.
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary for the DHHS, and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to Obama, have issued a statement claiming that “scientific developments have advanced our understanding of how to best fight HIV” and “recent research also shows that an important benefit of earlier treatment is that it dramatically reduces the risk of HIV transmission to partners. Furthermore, HIV testing technology is faster, and more accurate than ever before, and HIV drug treatment is less toxic, and easier to administer.”
Former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, announced last year that there was a blueprint to reign in the war against AIDS called President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Clinton explained that “HIV may well be with us into the future, but [AIDS] need not be.”
The US State Department is focused on an “AIDS-free generation” with a strong emphasis on testing and treatment. Clinton would like to see transmission brought to a minimum to ensure that with the proper measures taken, children will no longer be born with AIDS.
Scientists at the Imperial College at London have developed a nanotechnology that can be utilized in an HIV test for “better diagnosis and treatment in the developing world.”
Molly Stevens, lead researcher explains that this type of test analyzes saliva; however the acute sensitivity of this particular test will “be able to detect infection even in those cases where previous methods, such as the saliva test, were rendering a ‘false negative’ because the viral load was too low to be detected.”
This test identifies the HIV biomarker called p24; which if present will cause microscopic gold nanoparticles to clump together and turn a shade of blue. In contrast, a negative result will cause generate a red color.
Back in July, at the International AIDS Conference (IAC), there was a call for a coalition of international scientists working under the direction of UNAIDS to develop preventative measures, identifying human immune-responsive drugs and get them onto the market as quickly as possible.
Dr. Steven Deeks of the AIDS Research Institute, believes “that at best [its] 50-50 that we’re gonna get a cure” so preventative medicine is a better focal point.
By studying the “elite controllers” (people who are carriers, but do not display symptoms of HIV) scientists can decipher how the human immune system works and develop pharmaceuticals to administer to the public.
Trials conducted by Merck in 2007 actually made those who took the vaccine more susceptible to the disease. Then in 2009, human experiments in Thailand pointed to drug corporations toward a powerful vaccine that utilized immune system generated anti-bodies as the answer to their dilemma.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Gilead Sciences’ Truvada, the first pharmaceutical drug to prevent the virus that causes AIDS.
Marketed as a preventative for people who at high risk of contracting HIV through sexual activies, Turvada is supported by public health advocates that believe this pill will slow down the spread of HIV. In America it is estimated that 1.2 million people have HIV. With this new antiviral drug, it is proposed that 240,000 HIV carriers will not be able to continue to spread the disease.
Gilead Sciences combined two separate drugs to create Truvada. The genetically engineering of the preventative is praised by the FDA to answer the assumption that condoms are not effective.
New vaccines focus on tricking the human body to reject the HIV/AIDS virus by manipulating the immune system. This mutation is suspected to be able to assist the human body in identifying and neutralizing the virus.
Scientific teams from various institutions like the Scripps Research Institute, the Rockefeller University, NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center and Duke University are closely following how they can use the human body’s immune system against the array of HIV strains that keep popping up.