US President Barack Obama announced the launch of The HIV Cure Initiative yesterday, a $100 million investment in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research into a cure to HIV/AIDS.

“The United States should be at the forefront of the discoveries into how to put HIV in long-term remission without requiring lifelong therapies,” President Obama said at a White House event commemorating World AIDS Day. “Or, better yet, eliminate it completely.”

The funds for the initiative will be drawn from existing resources and will be redirected from expiring AIDS research grants. The funds will focus on further developing research into a treatment that has appeared to cure several people of HIV, but has been too “toxic or premature to apply beyond the research setting.”

Other high-priority AIDS research will continue to be supported alongside research for a cure, including treatment during pregnancy, and the effect of the interaction of factors like sex, race, and stigma on treatment. The US will also give five billion dollars to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next two years.

The US has been a world leader in funding prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, accounting for 64 percent of total international assistance to low- and middle- income countries. The President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) currently provides life-saving treatment for 6.7 million people. However, PEPFAR and other prevention programs have been held back by the influence of abstinence-based programs, frequent condom shortages in countries with high rates of those living with HIV/AIDS, and the lack of integration of family planning and HIV/AIDS services.

TAKE ACTION: Tell US leaders that HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs must be integrated with comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services including family planning services for women and girls.

Media Resources: Politico 12/2/13; Feminist Newswire 10/25/13, 11/6/13, 12/2/13; National Institutes of Health 12/2/13; The White House Office of the Press Secretary 12/2/13

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