WASHINGTON, DC – As the World Health Organization and The White House recognize World AIDS Day 2017, it is a reminder of the significant progress that has been made to eradicate HIV and AIDS. From 2008 to 2014 alone, the estimated number of annual HIV infections has declined by nearly 20 percent.
However, there is more work to be done, and the landmark 21st Century Cures Act shows Congress’s commitment to boosting research to find new treatments and cures for diseases like HIV/AIDS.
Just yesterday, #SubHealth held a hearing with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb and National Institutes of Health Director, Dr. Francis Collins, to receive an update on implementation of this important, bipartisan legislation. Their testimonies were encouraging about the progress of finding innovative new treatments and cures for public health challenges like HIV/AIDS.
While we mark these positive signs in the battle with HIV/AIDS like increased rates of diagnosis, there are also new challenges we must strive to meet. Among them is the spike in HIV cases as a result of the opioid epidemic. States battling the opioid crisis are susceptible to new HIV outbreaks, as seen in Indiana recently, largely due to sharing needles in drug use. This has become especially prevalent as opioid users shift to heroin.
Last summer, the CDC identified 200 counties that show signs of vulnerability for other HIV outbreaks. This is a reminder that diligence is key to continuing to fight HIV/AIDS. Citizens must be educated on the dangers of sharing needles or other risky behavior that can lead to a lifetime battle with HIV.
As heroin use grows, HIV outbreaks are likely to follow. In the meantime, Energy and Commerce continues its efforts to combat the opioid crisis and other public health crises impacting Americans.
Learn more about preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS from NIH.
Follow the committee’s work on the opioid crisis at energycommerce.house.gov/opioids/.