After 40 Years of Progress, It Is Time to End the HIV Epidemic

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the first official report about AIDS on June 5th, 1981, we pause to honor the more than 32 million people who have died from AIDS-related illnesses globally, including 700,000 people in the U.S.

Despite the progress we’ve made over four decades, HIV persists as a serious public health challenge globally. Fortunately, ending the HIV epidemic is now within our reach.

Reflecting on those we have lost to HIV and AIDS, and standing alongside the HIV community, we recommit ourselves to ending the HIV epidemic, continuing the work that must be done, reengaging people with lived experience and a wide variety of stakeholders from all sectors of society, and to reenergizing our efforts to accelerate progress and ensure equity.

To move us forward towards this goal, on May 28, 2021, the White House published President Biden’s Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2022, which includes a request for $670 million for continued implementation of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative (EHE).

Right now, 38 million people – including 1.2 million here in the U.S. – are living with HIV. While we still don’t have a cure, we have made tremendous strides. Biomedical and scientific research advances have led to the development of HIV tests, many successful HIV treatments, prevention strategies, and improved care for persons with HIV.

Today, people with HIV who know their status take HIV medication as prescribed, and can live long healthy lives and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to others.

In addition, prevention tools that include pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP, and syringe services programs make an individual’s risk of acquiring HIV significantly lower when they have access to those tools. National HIV efforts have taken us from a peak of 130,000 HIV infections annually in the U.S. in the mid-1980s to 34,800 in 2019.

New data from the CDC show that in the U.S. we have made significant improvements in both viral suppression rates among people with HIV and the number of HIV-negative people prescribed PrEP. In 2019, 66% of people with diagnosed HIV were virally suppressed, an increase from 60% in 2015. Additionally, nearly 23% of people who could benefit from PrEP were prescribed it in 2019, up from 3% in 2015.

Together, we will continue our whole-of-society approach and engage populations most disproportionately affected by HIV. In the U.S., this includes continued implementation of EHE and focusing on gay and bisexual men, Blacks and Latinos, transgender women, and those living in the Southern U.S.

We have made remarkable progress in preventing and treating HIV in the U.S. and around the world and this progress has been built on the shoulders of the early pioneers of the modern AIDS movement who gave their hearts, their souls, and many their lives so that we can end the HIV epidemic.

I am excited to engage across the Biden-Harris Administration and with partners from all sectors of society to take the decisive steps necessary to end the HIV epidemic around the globe.

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    According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data for 2017 through 2019, over 50 helicopter operators conducted approximately 88,000 helicopter flights within 30 miles of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (D.C. area), though limited data on noise from these flights exist. According to operators, these flights supported various missions (see table below). While the number of flights has decreased slightly over the 3 years reviewed, it is unknown whether there has been a change in helicopter noise in the area. For example, most stakeholders do not collect noise data, and existing studies of helicopter noise in the area are limited. D.C. area airspace constraints—such as lower maximum altitudes near urban areas—combined with proximity to frequently traveled helicopter routes and operational factors may affect the noise heard by residents. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-Reported Helicopter Flights Conducted in the Washington, D.C. Area by Operator Mission, 2017–2019 Operator mission Number of flights Military 32,890 (37.4 percent) Air medical 18,322 (20.9 percent) Other aviation activity 13,977 (15.9 percent)a State and local law enforcement 12,861 (14.6 percent) Federal law enforcement and emergency support 5,497 (6.3 percent) News 4,298 (4.9 percent) Source: GAO analysis of FAA data. | GAO-21-200 Note: In this table, we refer to the Washington, D.C. area as including the area within 30 miles of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. aIncludes 666 flights for which FAA could not identify an operator or mission based on available historical records. FAA and operators reported taking steps to address public concerns about helicopter noise in the D.C. area. FAA receives and responds to complaints on helicopter noise from the public through its Noise Ombudsman and has recently developed online forms that improve FAA's ability to identify and respond to helicopter noise issues. Operators reported using FAA-recommended practices, such as flying at maximum altitudes and limiting night flights, to address helicopter noise in the D.C. area, but such practices are likely not feasible for operators with military, law enforcement, or air medical evacuation missions. FAA's and operators' approach to addressing these issues in the D.C. area is impeded because they do not consistently or fully share the information needed to do so. According to nearly all the operators we interviewed, FAA has not communicated with operators about helicopter noise or forwarded complaints to them. Similarly, operators often receive noise complaints from the public—some complaints are not directed to the correct operator—but do not typically share these complaints with FAA. As a result, operators have not consistently responded to residents' inquiries about helicopter noise and activity. By developing a mechanism for FAA and operators to share information, FAA could help improve responses to individual helicopter noise concerns and determine what additional strategies, if any, are needed to further address helicopter noise. Helicopter noise can potentially expose members of the public to a variety of negative effects, ranging from annoyance to more serious medical issues. FAA is responsible for managing navigable U.S. airspace and regulating noise from civil helicopter operations. Residents of the D.C. area have raised concerns about the number of helicopter flights and the resulting noise. GAO was asked to review issues related to helicopter flights and noise within the D.C. area. Among its objectives, this report examines: (1) what is known about helicopter flights and noise from flights in the D.C. area, and (2) the extent to which FAA and helicopter operators have taken action to address helicopter noise in the D.C. area. GAO reviewed statutes, regulations, policies, and documents on helicopter noise. GAO analyzed (1) available data on helicopter operations and noise in the D.C. area for 2017 through 2019, and (2) FAA's approach to responding to helicopter complaints. GAO also interviewed FAA officials; representatives from 18 D.C. area helicopter operators, selected based on operator type and number of flights; and 10 local communities, selected based on factors including geography and stakeholder recommendations. GAO recommends that FAA develop a mechanism to exchange helicopter noise information with operators in the D.C. area. FAA agreed with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact Heather Krause at (202) 512-2834 or KrauseH@gao.gov.
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  • International Law Enforcement Operation Targeting Opioid Traffickers on the Darknet Results in over 170 Arrests Worldwide and the Seizure of Weapons, Drugs and over $6.5 Million
    In Crime News
    Today, the Department of Justice, through the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) team joined Europol to announce the results of Operation DisrupTor, a coordinated international effort to disrupt opioid trafficking on the Darknet. The operation, which was conducted across the United States and Europe, demonstrates the continued partnership between JCODE and Europol against the illegal sale of drugs and other illicit goods and services. Operation DisrupTor builds on the success of last year’s Operation SaboTor and the coordinated law enforcement takedown of the Wall Street Market, one of the largest illegal online markets on the dark web.
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  • Southern Colorado Man Sentenced to More Than 19 Years for Plotting to Blow Up Synagogue
    In Crime News
    A Colorado man was sentenced today in federal court in Colorado for plotting to blow up a synagogue.
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  • Fort Bend County home health owner charged with copying and pasting doctor signatures
    In Justice News
    A 60-year-old Richmond [Read More…]
  • Leon DeKalb: U.S. Probation’s First Black Officer
    In U.S Courts
    Leon Elmer DeKalb made history nearly 80 years ago when he became the first African American probation officer in the federal court system.
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  • Disaster Block Grants: Factors to Consider in Authorizing a Permanent Program
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In March 2019, GAO reported that because the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program lacks permanent authority and regulations—unlike other disaster assistance programs—appropriations require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to customize grant requirements for each disaster in Federal Register notices—a time-consuming process. GAO identified challenges associated with the lack of permanent statutory authority, including delays in disbursal of funds and the need for grantees to manage multiple grants with different rules. For example, GAO found it took HUD 5 months after the first appropriation for the 2017 hurricanes (Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria) for HUD to issue the first Federal Register notice establishing the grant requirements. Officials from one of the 2017 CDBG-DR grantees told GAO of challenges managing multiple CDBG-DR grants it received over the years because each grant had different rules. HUD officials noted then that permanently authorizing CDBG-DR would allow HUD to issue permanent regulations for disaster recovery. GAO identified factors to consider when weighing whether and how to permanently authorize a program for unmet disaster assistance needs. These factors, which are based on GAO's body of work on emergency management and past observations of broader government initiatives, include the following: Clarify how the program would fit into the broader federal disaster framework. GAO has emphasized the importance of articulating a program's relationship to other programs and of aligning the program within organizations with compatible missions and goals. This is particularly important with disaster programs, given the approximately 30 agencies involved in disaster recovery. Clarify the purpose and design the program to address it. Greater clarity about the purpose of CDBG-DR could help resolve implementation issues GAO has previously identified, such as how much time grantees should have to spend funds and the proportion of funds that should be distributed to renters. Consider the necessary capacity and support infrastructure to implement the program. GAO's prior work found that state, local, territorial, and tribal grantees and federal agencies faced capacity challenges in administering and overseeing federal grant funds, including CDBG-DR. Capacity challenges for grantees may contribute to fraud risks and slow expenditure of funds. Why GAO Did This Study Legislation proposed over the years would permanently authorize CDBG-DR or a similar program, but no proposal has been enacted. Since 1993, Congress has provided over $90 billion in supplemental appropriations through HUD's CDBG program to help communities recover from disasters. Just since 2001, HUD has issued over 100 Federal Register notices linked to these funds. Communities use these funds to address unmet needs for housing, infrastructure, and economic revitalization. HUD is one of approximately 30 federal agencies tasked with disaster recovery. This testimony discusses (1) challenges associated with the lack of permanent statutory authority for CDBG-DR and (2) factors to consider when weighing whether and how to permanently authorize CDBG-DR or a similar program. It is based primarily on GAO's March 2019 and May 2021 reports on CDBG-DR (GAO-19-232 and GAO-21-177) and GAO reports issued between February 2004 and June 2019 that identified factors to consider in making critical federal policy decisions. For those reports, GAO reviewed documentation on CDBG-DR and its observations of efforts to reorganize or streamline government, among other things.
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  • NASA Invites Public to Share Excitement of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Launch
    In Space
    A Mars photo booth, [Read More…]
  • Five Charged in Connection with an over $4 Million Paycheck Protection Program Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    Five individuals were charged in an indictment with fraudulently obtaining more than $4 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and using those funds, in part, to purchase luxury vehicles. Authorities have seized a Range Rover worth approximately $125,000, jewelry, over $120,000 in cash, and over $3 million from 10 bank accounts at the time of arrest.
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  • Jeffrey Lowe and Tiger King LLC Ordered to Relinquish Big Cat Cubs to United States for Placement in Suitable Facilities
    In Crime News
    On Jan. 15, 2021, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the United States and against Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park LLC, and Tiger King LLC based on claimed violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act.
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