New York governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled an ambitious plan this week to end the AIDS epidemic in his state by 2020. The three-part proposal advocates greater levels of testing, encouraging those with HIV to remain on treatment and medication plans, and the slightly more controversial pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — a strategy by which the drug Truvada (approved by the FDA in 2012) will be given to HIV-negative patients in an attempt to reduce new instances of infection.
In pursuing this path, Cuomo becomes perhaps the first official of his stature to embrace what health agencies at state and local levels have long supported. It’s a move that carries some political risk, but it’s apparently a risk that Cuomo is willing to shoulder to combat a disease that in the course of its terrible and fairly short history has infected more than 1.7 million Americans, killing over a third–and which is expected to infect some 4,000 people this year in New York City alone. It is estimated that in the United States 1.1 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and that one fifth do not know it.