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White House to unveil national strategy in HIV, AIDS fight

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will announce a new national strategy for combating HIV and AIDS, aimed at stopping new infections and increasing access to care for people living with the virus.

The strategy calls for reducing the rate of new HIV infections by 25 percent over the next five years, and for getting treatment to 85 percent of patients within three months of their diagnosis, according to a source who advised the administration on the report.

Widely considered to be the nation's first comprehensive national strategy on HIV and AIDS, the report is the result of more than a year of discussions among the administration, state and local officials, advocacy groups and the private sector.

While the strategy does call for improved coordination among federal agencies, the source who advised the administration said it does not identify any new government funding to implement the strategy, an oversight the source said could hamper progress in meeting the new benchmarks.

The new policy will concentrate HIV prevention efforts at the highest-risk populations - which include gay and bisexual men, as well as black Americans - far more than is done today, said Chris Collins of amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, which was among the groups that met with administration officials as the new policy firmed up over the last few months.

That means finding creative ways to spread successful local programs that find people who are HIV-negative and help them stay that way, as well as providing education and treatment for people who are living with HIV that reduces their chances of spreading the virus, Collins said.

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