Dear Colleagues Letter
Today is World AIDS Day, a day to come together and collectively act against HIV, to support people everywhere who are living with HIV, and to remember lives lost to the epidemic. The U.S. Government’s theme this year, “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV,” emphasizes accountability and action, and reaffirms our dedication to ending the HIV epidemic globally by ensuring equitable access to quality, people-centered HIV prevention and treatment services for all.
Through support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and together with our partners in the global community, we have made incredible progress since the first World AIDS Day commemoration 34 years ago. New annual HIV infections have decreased by 54 percent since their peak in 1996, and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 68 percent, from a peak of 2 million in 2004 to 650,000 in 2021. Data from CDC-supported population-based HIV impact surveys show many PEPFAR-supported countries in Africa have achieved or are on the cusp of achieving control of their HIV epidemics, including Botswana, which was recently recognized as the first country to surpass the ambitious UNAIDS 95-95-95 fast-track targets for ending their HIV epidemic, well ahead of the 2030 target. Additionally, between 2018 and 2021, 10.3 million people living with HIV received TB preventive treatment, surpassing the global target to reach 6 million by 2022.
But there is more work to be done. Too many people are infected with HIV each year, and too many people living with HIV struggle to access life-saving treatment. We know that HIV does not affect everyone equally, and that social, economic, demographic, and geographic inequalities put some populations – including adolescent girls and young women and key populations – at disproportionate risk for HIV, impede their ability to access HIV services, and hinder our progress toward ending the HIV epidemic.
At CDC, we remain deeply committed to addressing stigma, discrimination, and other barriers that slow progress in the HIV response and leave us unprepared to address other public health threats. As an agency, we launched a CORE Health Equity Science and Intervention Strategy which integrates health equity into the fabric of all we do, and we are serving as the co-convenor of the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination. As part of this work, we are supporting the partnership’s Focal Country Collaboration Initiative, which will help create a community of practice and develop tools, initiatives, and interventions to address societal, structural, and community-level responses to stigma and discrimination.
As a key PEPFAR implementing agency, we are excited to advance the bold vision laid out in the Reimagining PEPFAR’s Strategic Direction, which puts health equity for priority populations front and center and prioritizes strengthening the public health systems that will be needed to protect communities affected by HIV from future threats.
Today, I encourage you to visit CDC’s World AIDS Day web site to learn how you can help eliminate HIV in your community.
Thank you for your continued commitment as we work together to end the HIV epidemic.
Surbhi Modi, MD, MPH
Acting Director, Division of Global HIV & TB
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention