DoD highlights leadership, commitment, impact on World AIDS Day
this year’s Federal theme for World AIDS Day is Leadership, Commitment, Impact. The U.S. military has a large role as a world leader dedicated to HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment.
“The Department of Defense demonstrates leadership, commitment and impact through its policies as well as its investment in working to eradicate HIV around the world,” said Dr. Terry Adirim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Services Policy and Oversight. “Further, DoD has a progressive, even-handed and evidenced-based approach that supports its personnel who live with HIV.”
In Fiscal Year 2015, the U.S. Government tested and counseled more than 68 million people globally under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Government initiative to help those suffering from HIV and AIDS around the world. PEPFAR is providing direct life-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 5 million people, with millions more armed with the knowledge they need to take an active role in securing treatment and preventing the spread of the virus to reduce HIV-related morbidity and mortality. The goal is to eradicate AIDS by 2030.
The Military Health System has been at the forefront of research innovation through the U.S. Military HIV Research Program. “Our military scientists very often work collaboratively with our Federal partners and academia in their research activities,” said Adirim. The MHS Research is used beyond the military to combat the worldwide HIV and AIDS pandemic, she added.
One of military medicine’s greatest success stories has been the progression of effective clinical management tools and treatment regimens in the fight against HIV infection and AIDS. DoD follows international, national and Federal guidelines in developing clinical standards, including recommendations from professional organizations. Beyond ensuring the policies are evidence-based and medically accurate, DoD experts regularly review and update policies based on the newest medical information.
In an initiative to improve care to the U.S. military family, the MHS recently trained more than 7,000 health care professionals who counseled and tested 630,000 beneficiaries, including 55,000 pregnant women. Another recent accomplishment has been equipping 200 laboratories with the capability to support local HIV testing and diagnostics.
The MHS engages all service members as partners in maintaining their military readiness through healthy living. Periodic HIV screenings and counseling are part of this effort. The DoD provides state-of-the-art treatment coupled with the same dignity and respect given to those with any medical condition. “DoD has advanced in recent years in its policies to ensure that anybody with HIV who continues to meet the requirements of military service is able to serve,” said Adirim.