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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a “Dear Colleague“ letter on October 1 outlining some important decisions that have been made about the ongoing efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Chief among these efforts is an acceleration of the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) Initiative using the 4 indicators to direct all CDC efforts and programs. The four indicators of this initiative are:

  • DIAGNOSIS, perhaps an obvious element to address HIV, is still important as there are many people who are living with HIV and may not know their status. Efforts to diagnose every person with HIV are critical to ending this epidemic.
  • TREATMENT for HIV has many benefits, the most obvious one being related to the health of the person in treatment. HIV is not a death sentence and those who are in treatment for HIV will have a great chance to live a long, healthy life with HIV. But here’s the thing… those in successful sustained treatment (suppressing the amount of virus in the body) are unable to pass HIV along to a sexual partner. This is another key element in ending HIV.
  • PREVENTION for HIV has often meant condoms and abstinence, and while these are effective, there are new biomedical prevention strategies known as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) that are effective in preventing HIV for those that may have some likelihood of becoming HIV positive. These biomedical strategies involve two medications that can be taken daily, and in some cases, as “on demand” prevention pills. Additionally, the FDA has accepted an application by ViiV Healthcare for a long-term injectable form of PrEP… a shot every two months. Preventing HIV is another key element to end the epidemic. Check out a great article about long-acting injectable medications for PrEP at POZ.com.
  • RESPONDING to HIV outbreaks is another key element to addressing the number of new infections that occur in the U.S. Recent outbreaks, sometimes fueled by injection drug misuse, offer an opportunity to diagnose, treat and educate about HIV, and at the same time address the root causes of drug misuse, addiction, and overdose.

The CDC has also made some significant changes to the names of some of the agencies that support efforts to end the HIV epidemic. The Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention will become the Division of HIV Prevention (DHP), and the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention will become the National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. It should be noted that a few years ago, the government website for HIV/AIDS information, AIDS.gov, officially changed over to HIV.gov.

In making these significant changes, the CDC recognizes that, “our new titles more accurately reflect the organization’s focus on high impact prevention of HIV—by preventing new HIV infections, improving health outcomes for persons with HIV, and reducing HIV-related disparities and health inequities.”

We also support these decisions as we recognize the term AIDS still means death in the lexicon of disease and that “living with HIV” needs to be the center of our hearts and the focus of our words.

Read the full “Dear Colleague” letter.