U.S. President Donald Trump has unveiled a bold plan to stop spread of HIV within a decade in the U.S. in spite challenges posed by his lack of action to improve healthcare system.
In the annual State of the Union address delivered, Trump urged his audience in Congress to work on to “eliminate the HIV epidemic” in the country “within 10 years.”
This is the second time that Trump used his annual speech in the Congress to make big promises in beating back health scourges.
In 2018, Trump set a red flag to tackle opioid crisis but the money for a wide expansion of addiction treatment is still lacking as he prioritised to cut back the country’s healthcare services.
“In the U.S., more than one million people aged 13 and older are living with HIV infection, with an estimated 15 per cent unaware of their status.
“And approximately 56,000 new infections occur each year, ‘’ according to National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Trump based his ambitious pledge on “scientific breakthroughs” in recent years.
It did hold some water as the Food and Drug Administration approved three new drugs in 2018 to fight the global epidemic and at least one HIV vaccine has been put into clinical trial with promising results.
However, as the epidemic disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities, women of colour, and men, who have sex with men, the drive to end the HIV spread is more a social issue than a scientific one.
AIDS United, a non-profit organisation, said in a statement that they “are cautiously encouraged’’ by Trump’s promise, since “this administration’s actions speak louder than words and have moved us in the wrong direction.”
Trump proposed in his fiscal 2019 budget to cut the domestic HIV/AIDS programme by 43 million dollars and worked to roll back the healthcare services in the Obama era.
“The President’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act and proposed cuts to non-defense discretionary spending have threatened to undermine our efforts to end the HIV epidemic,” according to AIDS United’s statement.
The disparity among populations to have access to medical protections made the situation worse.
African American and Hispanics are the most vulnerable group of HIV infections, but they are poorly covered by healthcare services like Medicaid and Medicare.
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organisation on healthcare issues, cited “poverty, lack of access to health care, lack of awareness of HIV status, and stigma” as challenges for the epidemic among the most vulnerable communities.
Trump didn’t make substantial moves in fighting HIV/AIDS in his first two years in office.
Medicaid is “the single largest source of coverage for people with HIV in the U.S.,” according to Kaiser Family Foundation, but the Trump administration encouraged states to cut funding for the programme.
A recent proposal made by Trump on the reform of Medicare would dismantle most of protections for people living with serious conditions, like HIV and may threaten to “reignite the domestic epidemic as opposed to positioning us to end it,” according to the AIDS United.
The epidemic prevention has not been on Trump’s high agenda, making his ambitious 10-year strategy suspicious.
The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS did not meet at all in 2018, according to a report released by the Fenway Institute, an LGBTQ health organisation.
Trump has not appointed a new director for the White House Office of National AIDS Policy since its previous chief resigned in January 2017.
Similarly, China’s health authorities on Wednesday launched an investigation into a batch of human immunoglobulin for intravenous injection, which were reported to be HIV antibody positive.
The drugs, carrying the batch number of 20180610Z, were manufactured by China Meheco Xinxing Pharma Co. in Shanghai.
Shanghai’s drug watchdog has ordered the company to halt production and initiate emergency recall of its products.
The National Health Commission said it had informed the National Medical Products Administration to demand medical institutions nationwide to stop using and seal products of the said batch number.
The commission said the risk of HIV infection is “very low” for those, who have been injected the product, based on related literatures, manufacturing technique and the pH value of the product.
A follow-up monitoring plan has been made for these people, it said.
The commission has sent a working team to Shanghai to supervise and guide related work.
A group of experts sent by the National Medical Products Administration has arrived in Shanghai for site inspection at the company.
All the related production and inspection records have been sealed.
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