Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in D.C.

2015-12-01 17.20.53This morning, on World AIDS Day, Mayor Muriel Bowser committed D.C. to meet the goals in the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care’s Fast-Track Cities Initiative. These goals align with the pledges the District government made in June, when announcing a partnership with DC Appleseed, to craft a plan to “double down on commitments” made in the past through the “90/90/90/50 plan”: First, 90% of those infected with HIV know their status. Second, 90% of those diagnosed as HIV-positive are retained in ongoing treatment. Third, 90% of those in treatment have a viral load low enough that it is very unlikely they will pass on the virus. And fourth, this will all lead to a 50% reduction in new HIV infections by 2020.

Mayor Bowser also noted today that her commitment to the Fast-Track Cities Initiative and the 90/90/90/50 plan will be in line with the federal government’s 2015 World AIDS Day theme: “The Time to Act is Now.” When Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy Douglas Brooks announced this theme he noted that, given the advances that have been made in care and prevention, now is the time to “recommit ourselves to achieving an AIDS-free generation.” That sentiment is exactly why DC Appleseed shifted our focus from yearly monitoring report cards to developing a plan to finally end the HIV epidemic in D.C. in partnership with the District government.

The basics of our joint plan will not be complicated: preventing new infections, ensuring those diagnosed with the virus remain in treatment, and addressing the social factors that can hinder prevention and care. If people living with HIV are virally suppressed enough that they cannot pass along the virus and those who are not infected use proven preventative measures like condoms and pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs, the ultimate goal of an AIDS-free generation is not far off. And we can meet the goal of a 50% reduction of new cases of HIV by 2020.

Our greatest lesson since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic still applies: today is always the time to act. Lives depend on it.

We have come a long way, but we have hard work yet to do. We look forward to working with Mayor Bowser and the District government and hearing input from D.C. residents as we develop and release a plan next year. We are excited for the potential of this venture.

You have supported us over the last ten years as we pushed the government to make huge strides to address the epidemic; I hope you will continue to support us as we work to end it. This World AIDS Day, make a gift to DC Appleseed and participate in ending the HIV epidemic in the Nation’s Capital.

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