CDC Not ‘Abandoning’ HIV Prevention Efforts But ‘Strengthening Existing Efforts,’ CDC Director Says
The CDC is not "abandoning" its support for effective programs to prevent infection among HIV-negative people but instead is "strength[ening] ... existing efforts" by encouraging more HIV testing and helping HIV-positive people to "develop tools to stay healthy and to protect their partners from infection," CDC Director Julie Gerberding writes in a Los Angeles Times letter to the editor in response to a Times article on the CDC's new HIV/AIDS prevention strategy (Gerberding, Los Angeles Times, 10/11). The CDC in April announced a new HIV/AIDS prevention strategy that will shift funding distribution away from community groups that provide education aimed at reducing unsafe sexual and drug-use behaviors in people who have not contracted HIV. According to the strategy, the government will invest most heavily in initiatives that focus on identifying people who are already HIV-positive, which could jeopardize approximately $90 million in annual federal funding for community groups. The CDC has said that the current emphasis on community outreach prevention programs has proven ineffective, citing annual increases in the number of new HIV cases nationwide (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/29). While many HIV-positive individuals might be unknowingly passing the virus to others, most people who learn they are positive reduce their risk behaviors, Gerberding says, asking, "What more evidence do we need to refocus our efforts to stop AIDS?" Gerberding concludes, "Until there's a vaccine, breaking the chain of infection remains our only hope of defeating the AIDS virus" (Los Angeles Times, 10/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.