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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: What Can the United States Learn from Africa about HIV Epidemic Control?

President Trump’s recent call to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. has turned attention to a domestic public health crisis that has been absent from the headlines. And with this bold challenge come critical questions:

In a highly relevant new commentary just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Wafaa M. El-Sadr, ICAP global director, and professor of epidemiology, and co-authors explore the state of AIDS in America, barriers that stand in the way of ending this persistent public health threat, and, compellingly, propose strategies that can be adopted from the progress made toward epidemic control in sub-Saharan Africa to bring HIV under control in the U.S.

Today, the U.S. still sees 40,000 new infections each year, and nearly 16,000 people died from HIV-related causes in 2017.

The authors point to four key strategies that have been effective in the global response and could be key to epidemic control in the U.S. First, a public health approach will be critical — one that brings services to everyone who needs them. Effective engagement of the affected communities to mitigate stigma and discrimination is essential, as is adherence to use of scientifically-proven, evidence-informed interventions. The use of epidemic data to drive action with precision, and regular assessments that gauge progress and realign programs as necessary, will ensure that efforts achieve maximum impact.

Progress will require urgent action, the authors underscore. But with adequate resources, setting of ambitious targets, demonstrating agility and willingness to change course as needed, it is possible.

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