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Obama Administration: We’re Committed to Fighting HIV/AIDS

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Leading health officials under the Obama administration say they’ve made progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. But they say they “recognize there’s still more that needs to be done.”

On a conference call Monday marking the 30th anniversary of the pandemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she and her HHS team were working on President Obama’s comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Launched last summer, the initiative seeks to reduce HIV incidence, increase access to care while optimizing health outcomes, and reduce HIV-related health disparities.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Monday that such disparities can be found among men who have sex with men. Frieden said MSM are the only major group to show a steady increase in HIV infection rates.

Which is why he says health agencies need to expand testing opportunities and promote “continuity of care” among MSM and other HIV patients.

FRIEDEN: The basic concept is focus–geographic, demographic and programatic. To be in the places, in the population groups, and with the programs that are going to have the most impact on addressing HIV/AIDS and reversing the epidemic. And so we’re very enthusiastic about the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Frieden even had a message for gay and bisexual men during Monday’s call—he said they should protect themselves by always using a condom and suggested they get tested “at least annually.”

HHS says it will continue to work at increasing access to critical care, especially by issuing new guidance to states on ways to apply for opportunities within the Medicaid program to help treat HIV patients.

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