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Assistant Sec. Of Health Koh Addresses AIDS 2012 Plenary; HHS Sec. Sebelius Speaks At Washington Post Event

Speaking at the plenary session of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., on Monday, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh discussed the development and implementation of the United States’ first-ever comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy (.pdf), ABC News reports. “In the U.S., the burden of HIV is not shared equally, by population or region,” Koh said, according to the news service, which adds, “Addressing HIV-related health disparities is one of three overarching goals of the U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy, along with reducing new infections and increasing access to HIV care.” About 50,000 new HIV infections occur in the U.S. annually, ABC notes (Duwell, 7/25). According to his speech transcript (.pdf), Koh said, “National strategies are critical to effective country leadership on HIV. National strategies outline a framework for responding to HIV/AIDS in ways that reflect each country’s unique epidemiology, disease burden, and trends. And they demonstrate the importance of country ownership and the need to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS programs” (7/24).

In related news, U.S. Secretary for Health Kathleen Sebelius “declined to sign on to the idea of a new ‘domestic PEPFAR’ on Tuesday, saying that the Obama administration’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy laid out in 2010 is providing a targeted response,” CQ HealthBeat reports. Speaking at a Washington Post event related to AIDS 2012, “Sebelius said that in the years before President Obama laid out a national strategy to combat the disease, there was a ‘scattershot’ approach on the U.S. level in which funds were not distributed very strategically and plans were not updated based on need,” the news service writes, noting, “Some advocates have said that the United States needs its own version of PEPFAR,” particularly to fill gaps in treatment coverage (Norman, 7/24).

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