By Bob Roehr
David Holtgrave focuses on HIV prevention at John Hopkins University. He lamented that an estimated 40,000 new infections continue to occur each year, a significant improvement from the estimated 160,000 infections that occurred each year during the mid-1980s.
“What would the epidemic be like if the current prevention programs were not there? Hundreds of thousands of thousands of infections have been prevented,” and in a very cost-effective way, Holtgrave said.
Transmission between seropositive to seronegative partners has declined from about 25 percent in the mid-1980s to about 4 percent today.
Historically, as money spent on HIV prevention increased, the number of new infections declined. “Over the last few years, both in real terms and adjusting for inflation, we’ve seen somewhat of a decrease in investment in prevention. I worry about what that might mean as we look to the future; will we see an increase?”
Holtgrave said the multi-year freeze in funding for prevention programs has resulted in a “crumbling” of information and the knowledge base of HIV and how to prevent infection among the public. “We have to rebuild that,” he said.
He said the current CDC prevention budget of about $700 million is short by about $350 million from what it should be “if we were to really provide comprehensive prevention services in this country.”