CDC Aims to Cut HIV Infections by 50%
The CDC yesterday announced a new effort intended to "break the back" of the AIDS epidemic by halving the number of new HIV infections by 2005, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The CDC's Serostatus Approach to Fighting the HIV Epidemic, or SAFE program, is based on the assumption that "most HIV infections are spread by outwardly healthy people who do not realize they have HIV" and intends to reduce the number of new infections from 40,000 a year to 20,000 by 2005 (Haney, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/7). The CDC, which already spends nearly $700 million a year on AIDS prevention, estimated that it will need to increase its budget to $900 million a year to cover the campaign. Dr. Helene Gayle, director of the agency's AIDS program, said she did not know how much the CDC would officially request because "the transition to a new administration has left the budget process unclear." However, in a meeting with top HHS staff last week, newly confirmed Secretary Tommy Thompson said that AIDS is a "top priority" for the administration (Schoofs, Wall Street Journal, 2/7). Gayle added that the funding estimates are what academic researchers and health departments estimate "it would realistically take" to meet the program's goals. "It's a matter of what our society is willing to pay for," she added (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/7).