President Trump calls for end to HIV/AIDS, pediatric cancer


HIV/AIDS, pediatric cancer research, abortion, prescription drug prices, and preexisting conditions were among the health care highlights of President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address Feb. 5.

President Trump speaks from the lecturn on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Behind him Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wears suffragist white. Courtesy whitehouse.gov

President Trump delivers his second State of the Union address, Feb. 5, 2019.

Mr. Trump promised to push for funds to end HIV/AIDS and childhood cancer within in 10 years. “In recent years, we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach,” he said to assembled members of Congress and leaders of the executive and judicial branches of government. “My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.”

Following the speech, Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, offered more details in a blog post on the agency’s website.

Funding for the initiative, dubbed “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America,” will have three components.

The first involves increasing investments in “geographic hotspots” though existing programs like the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and a new community health center–based program to provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) and preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to those at the highest risk of contracting the disease.

Second is the use of data to track where the disease is spreading most rapidly to help target prevention, care, and treatment at the local level. The third will provide funds for the creation of a local HIV HealthForce in these targeted areas to expand HIV prevention and treatment efforts.

A fact sheet on this initiative called for a 75% reduction in new cases of HIV infection in 5 years and at least a 90% reduction within 10 years.

President Trump called for similar efforts to address pediatric cancer.

“Tonight I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all American can get behind – the fight against childhood cancer,” he said, adding that his budget request will come with a line item of $500 million over 10 years to fund research. “Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades.”

President Trump also asked Congress to legislate a prohibition of late-term abortion.

“There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days,” he said. “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth. These are living, feeling beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and their dreams with the world. ... Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.”

He also touched on the recurring themes regarding lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, as well as protecting those with preexisting conditions, something he called a major priority.

“It’s unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong. This is unfair and together we will stop it, and we will stop it fast,” he said.

He did not offer any specific policy recommendation on how to address prescription drug costs, other than a comment on the need for greater price transparency.

“I am asking Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients,” he said.

“We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs way down.”

SOURCE: Trump D. State of the Union Address, Feb. 5, 2019.

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