On January 15, the federal government released the HIV National Strategic Plan for the United States: A Roadmap to End the Epidemic 2021–2025. As the name suggests, the plan sets targets and lays out strategies for ending HIV and reducing HIV-related disparities.

A product of the Department of Health and Human Services, the plan is the third such national HIV plan. The first debuted in 2010 under the Obama-Biden administration and was referred to as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Every five years, the strategy is updated in collaboration with federal and community partners along with input from stakeholders—the general public was given until December 14 to comment on the draft form of the latest version.

Referred to as the HIV Plan, the updated strategy lists four goals to guide HIV efforts across the nation:

  • Prevent new HIV infections.

  • Improve HIV-related health outcomes of people with HIV.

  • Reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequities.

  • Achieve integrated and coordinated efforts that address the HIV epidemic among all partners and stakeholders.

For each of the four goals, the HIV Plan spells out objectives and strategies. It also identifies minority populations disproportionately affected by the epidemic and offers ways to measure progress with respect to the objectives and goals.

“We are pleased that the final HIV plan has been released after community-wide input that bolsters our nation’s efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S.,” said Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, in a released statement. “The emphasis placed on priority populations such as youth, Black and Latino gay men, transgender and Black women, and drug users is especially welcome given the continued disproportionate impact on these populations. A focus on proven strategies such as PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis] and immediate access to antiretroviral treatments will bring us closer to meeting our collective goals.… It is reassuring to see an emphasis on the integration of efforts related to the syndemics of viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, substance use, and mental health along with a focus on stigma and discrimination and the social determinants of health.”

The HIV Plan’s executive summary offers more context and details, such as:

The nation’s new HIV infections have declined from their peak in the mid-1980s, and people with HIV in care and treatment are living longer, healthier lives. However, not all groups have experienced decreases in HIV infections or improvements in HIV-related health outcomes. In 2018, the estimated number of new HIV infections was 36,400. A robust prevention toolbox that includes pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and syringe services programs (SSPs) has lowered a person’s risk of acquiring HIV. Research in recent years has proven that people with HIV who take antiretroviral therapy achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load not only protect their health but also have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV through sex.

This stability in the annual number of new infections, though, has further illuminated opportunities for focused efforts. According to the most recent available data, just over one third (39%) of the U.S. population have ever been tested for HIV1 and an estimated 161,800 (14%) people with HIV are unaware of their status. Only 56% of people with HIV were virally suppressed in 2018. Approximately 80% of new HIV infections are due to people who do not know they have HIV or are not receiving regular care, and only 18% of the approximately 1.2 million people indicated for PrEP are receiving it.

This HIV National Strategic Plan (HIV Plan), the nation’s third consecutive national HIV strategy, sets forth bold targets for ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030, including a 75% reduction in new HIV infections by 2025 and a 90% reduction by 2030.

The HIV Plan, the executive summary notes, complements President Trump’s Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America. Launched in 2019, it’s a 10-year initiative to lower new HIV cases by the same proportions cited in the HIV Plan above, which amounts to fewer than 3,000 new cases a year.

To learn more about the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, read an overview at HIV.gov and visit the official webpage at HRSA.org. For a related POZ article, see “Plans to End the HIV Epidemic at Home and Abroad.”

You can read and download a PDF of the 85-page national HIV Plan on HIV.gov.