WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden will unveil Wednesday a strategy for combatting HIV/AIDS that the administration says will have a new focus on the growing population of people with HIV who are aging, along with other changes.
More than half of the1.2 million people in the United States who are living with HIV are over age 50.
The plan will also recognize racism as a serious health threat, expand the focus on addressing issues like homelessness that make it hard to fight HIV/AIDS and encourage reform of state HIV criminalization laws.
Those are some of the changes outlined by the White House in advance of Biden's remarks Wednesday recognizing World AIDS Day.
As in past years, a giant red ribbon has been hung on the north portico of the White House.
At an afternoon event, Biden will lay out his National HIV/AIDS strategy and talk about ensuring that those with HIV are treated with equity and dignity, according to a senior administration official who previewed the remarks on condition of anonymity.
"Ending the HIV epidemic is within our reach, and we are committed to finishing this work," Biden said in a statement proclaiming Wednesday as World AIDS Day.
More than 36 million people, including 700,000 Americans, have died from AIDS-related illness since the first known case of AIDS was reported 40 years ago.
While modern HIV treatment has allowed those infected to live longer, there's an increased need to tailor services to older Americans with HIV/AIDS. That includes addressing other health and psycho-social needs often associated with aging, according to the administration.
For example, the plan calls for increasing HIV awareness among providers of aging services, housing for older adults, substance use treatment and disability and other medical services.
Age-related complications such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease, cancers and other ailments are more common in people living with HIV over age 50 than they are among people of the same age without HIV.
Long-term survivors of HIV also often experience social isolation, loneliness, and a lack of social support, as well as HIV- and age-related stigma, according to the administration.
For all people of all ages with HIV, the administration wants to take a more coordinated and integrated approach across federal agencies. That could help, for example, address issues like food insecurity and housing instability that put people at risk for HIV and impede treatment.
In Biden's 2022 budget request, he asked Congress for a $20 million bump in funding for housing assistance and supportive services for low income people with HIV.
The administration also hopes to engage the private sector in new ways, such as using social media to combat misinformation and the stigma that exists around HIV.
Maureen Groppe has covered Washington for nearly three decades and is now a White House correspondent for USA TODAY. Follow her on Twitter @mgroppe.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden's HIV/AIDS strategy to include new emphasis on older Americans