U.S. President Donald J. Trump wants to eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2030, a pledge he announced on Tuesday's State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C.
War Against HIV/AIDS
During his speech, he promised to allocate budget to fight the epidemic that is affecting more than a million Americans.
"In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS," stated the 45th President of the United States. "Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. We have made incredible strides, incredible."
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) targets the infected person's immune system by destroying cells that fight diseases. The virus is transmitted via sexual contact, sharing a needle, blood transfusion, or from mother to child during pregnancy or breastfeeding. If left unchecked, HIV can lead to AIDS, the most serious stage of the infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 alone, a total of 38,739 people have received an HIV diagnosis in the United States, 66 percent of which are gay and bisexual men. Meanwhile, African Americans account for 43 percent of the new diagnosis from the same year.
To this day, there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS. However, there are treatment options available for those who have been infected. A combination of drugs called antiretroviral therapy can slow the progression of the virus within the body.
Criticism After Trump's State Of The Union
Right now, the details of how the Trump administration will eradicate HIV/AIDS have not been made publicly available or did he quote an exact budget that will go toward stopping the epidemic.
Some are already feeling skepticism over the president's grand pronouncements. After the news that he will call for ramping up the efforts to eradicate AIDS in the United States leaked on Monday, Feb. 4, many advocates voiced their criticisms. ACT UP New York, a nonprofit organization, for example, published a list of how the Trump administration has "further marginalized" people living with HIV. GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ media advocacy group, said that the announcement was "undermined by the administration's record and rhetoric."
While experts say that eradicating the epidemic within 10 years is realistic, the challenge lies within the president and his policies.
"The challenge is that the White House and GOP policies so far run counter to any way you should approach [ending HIV]," said Gregg Gonsalves, a public health professor who studies epidemiology at Yale University.