The State of HIV/AIDS Progress & Applying Lessons Learned to Current Public Health Emergencies

In the late 1980s, HIV/AIDS became a significant threat to public health, with the virus ultimately taking the lives of an estimated 2 million people at the peak of the epidemic in 2006. With effective treatments and increased awareness, new HIV diagnoses were on the decline by the mid-1990s; and today, HIV/AIDS is now considered a chronic condition rather than a fatal disease. Despite the evolution of treatments and interventions, significant barriers to care (e.g., racial/ethnic disparities, stigma, treatment retention, HIV criminalization laws) remain. This event explored lessons for public health from the HIV/AIDS experience and how they map to COVID-19 and monkeypox response efforts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Purposeful community-embedded outreach and peer support, especially in marginalized populations, is essential to preventing HIV and eliminating barriers to quality care.
  • Utilizing medical advances such as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and other antiretroviral therapies can help end the HIV epidemic, but these tools are underused, and disparities in accessibility exist.
  • Destigmatization, particularly in intersectional communities, is critical to battling inequity, catalyzing progress, and advancing the lifespans of PLWHA (people living with HIV/AIDS).
  • Science-based discussions help depoliticize the HIV response and rebuild trust in public health.
  • The paradigm of HIV as an infectious disease is a source of experience and research that can help inform responses to current and future pandemics.
  • Investing in a sustainable funding model for the American public health system is essential to effectively dealing with infectious diseases.


  • Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., FIDSA, FACP, FACEP, Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
  • Lindsey Dawson, MPP, Associate Director of HIV Policy and Director of LGBTQ Health Policy, KFF
  • Antoinette Jones, National Field Organizer, Positive Women’s Network
  • Anand Parekh, M.D., Chief Medical Advisor, Bipartisan Policy Center (moderator)

This event was made possible with support from the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation.