The Trump Administration has announced a plan to stop the spread of HIV in the next decade. A local advocate is waiting to see action.
In Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, President Donald Trump said, “my budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.”
Peter Houle, executive director of Delaware HIV Consortium, thinks eradicating HIV is possible. “But with it you need to implement a major program. And I see no program. No ideas. No strategy coming from the Administration to support what was said last night,” said Houle.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Administration’s plan aims to fund increased investments in geographic hotspots through existing programs, such as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the use of data to identify where HIV is spreading most rapidly and guide decision-making around local needs, and the creation of a local HIV HealthForce in targeted areas to expand prevention and treatment.
“The money trail has to follow the idea,” said Houle. “And you can have all the great ideas as you want. But if you don’t have the infrastructure [with] which to create the programs that will prevent this, you’re still back at square one.”
The President did not specify in his State of the Union how much money he’ll request in his budget for the plan.
The plan will focus on 48 counties, plus Washington, D.C., San Juan, Puerto Rico and seven states. Delaware is not included.
According to the CDC, as of year-end 2016, 3,191 adults and adolescents were living with diagnosed HIV in Delaware, 1,857 of whom were African-American.
The rate of HIV diagnoses per 100,000 residents increased from 11.8 to 13 in Delaware between 2016 and 2017, according to the CDC.