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Trump homes in on HIV-AIDS hot spots to eradicate infections


Several federal agencies will provide more money and manpower to 48 counties and seven states that are hot spots for new HIV/AIDS infections to support President Trump’s goal of eradicating the virus by 2030.

The goal, unveiled during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, is to reduce new infections of HIV in the affected areas by 75% over the next five years and by 90% over the next decade. But agency officials couldn’t detail how much the new plan would cost because the White House’s budget request to Congress hasn’t been released yet.

“There will be significant new resources to support the effort you just heard,” Dr. Brett Giroir, HHS assistant secretary for health, said on a call with reporters Wednesday.

The agencies—which include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and HHS—will coordinate activities that include a new program to aid community health centers and provide resources for pre-exposure prophylaxis, known as PrEP, which can block the infection and is taken by people at a high risk of contracting HIV.

The plan will also provide funding for a local HIV HealthForce that will work on prevention and treatment in the affected hot spots.

“It will be very critical to fully engage the community clearly as we try to reach individuals for whatever reason who have not been reached,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said on the call.

Giroir added only 10% of the 1.2 million Americans who are eligible for PrEP take the treatment, which is why expanding access is a major plank of the plan.

The CDC identified the hot spots by looking at the newly infected in 2017; 38,739 people were diagnosed with HIV that year, according to CDC data.

“We actually listed the number of infections in each county. What that did was allow us to rank the counties,” Redfield said.

The CDC found that the 48 counties along with the District of Columbia and San Juan, Puerto Rico, accounted for 50% of the new infections in 2017, so the administration decided to augment the capacity for handling the crisis in such counties. The affected counties include the Atlanta urban area

“There were still cases in the rural South that weren’t concentrated in a single county,” Redfield said. “It turns out there were seven states that account for the majority of rural infections.”

The plan will include seven rural states that will also get boosted resources. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.