HIV/AIDS

For the fourth year in a row, federal health officials report that there has been a sharp increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallied nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017 — an increase of 200,000 cases over the previous year, and a record high.

A few years ago, historian Douglas Selvage discovered the blueprint for a fake news campaign. It was a 1985 cable from the Stasi, the former East German police, outlining how the Soviet Union and its allies were working to promote the idea that AIDS was an American biological weapon. "We are carrying a complex of active measures, in connection with the appearance in recent years, of a new, dangerous disease in the United States: Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS."

The U.N. has an incredibly ambitious goal of wiping out HIV transmission by the year 2030.

But global health experts say they can't execute that plan without a cheaper way to monitor the health of millions of HIV patients.

The Clinton Health Access Initiative, along with several other development agencies, has brokered an agreement to make routine HIV tests more accessible. They're aiming to make HIV viral load tests available for $12 a piece, slashing the price in some markets by more than 50 percent.

A short man with a ponytail peeks through a crack in a sheet-metal fence, calling out to see if anybody's home. His name is Dario Garcia and he is checking on some people with HIV to make sure they're taking their meds.

Garcia walks through the muddy yard, past chickens and scrawny dogs, to the cinder block house.

It's been two decades since we established effective treatment against HIV, rendering what was nearly always a fatal infection to a chronic, manageable condition.

I remember one of the first AIDS patients I met as a medical student in the mid-90s: Harry, a young man losing his sight from an opportunistic infection called CMV retinitis. We had only one drug we could give him to try to stop him from going blind.

In the introduction to his proposed federal budget, President Donald Trump states clearly that he plans to spend far less abroad and on international issues than did previous administrations.

One of the five bullet points in the introduction to the document "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again" states that the fiscal plan "puts America first by keeping more of America's hard-earned tax dollars here at home."

Each year, the United States gives $5 billion to $6 billion to fight HIV/AIDS around the world, with particular emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for two-thirds of the nearly 2 million new infections each year.

For World AIDS Day, we sat down with the U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, Deborah Birx, to talk about the state of the epidemic and the work of PEPFAR, set up by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the intention of saving the lives of people suffering from AIDS around the world.

While the HIV/AIDS epidemic no longer looks as menacing as it did in the 1980s and '90s, efforts to stop the spread of the disease have hit a brick wall.

It's one of the biggest medical mysteries of our time: How did HIV come to the U.S.?

By genetically sequencing samples from people infected early on, scientists say they have figured out when and where the virus that took hold here first arrived. In the process, they have exonerated the man accused of triggering the epidemic in North America.

The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from discriminating against people with serious illnesses, but some marketplace plans sidestep that taboo by making the drugs that people with HIV need unavailable or unaffordable, complaints filed recently with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights allege.

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