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AIDS.gov Changes Its Name to HIV.gov


It’s been over 36 years since the CDC released their first report discussing a new incurable virus which would later be known as AIDS. Since that time, millions in the United States have succumbed to the virus, which for many years was untreatable, incurable and known as a death sentence for anyone infected by it. Thirty plus years later, however, major strides have been made in healthcare, inclusive of advancements in technology that have made HIV with treatment and care a manageable illness. With these changes, finally came the need to change the federally funded website AIDS.gov, to its new name HIV.gov.

According to the Director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., “Much progress has been made in HIV/AIDS research since the disease was first recognized in 1981. Today, lifesaving antiretroviral therapies allow those living with HIV to enjoy longer, healthier lives—an outcome that once seemed unattainable.” He further went on to state that “AIDS.gov has been a valuable resource for those seeking information about HIV/AIDS, and its name change to HIV.gov appropriately reflects our evolution in transforming the pandemic, even as work remains to bring about an end to HIV.”

In 2016 alone, more than eight million people utilized the media platform of AIDS.gov to find information related to the virus and epidemic. Due to research in social media, it was also found that more people are familiar with the acronym HIV than AIDS and search for it at a much higher rate. This change will ensure that more people who are looking for information are able to utilize the services of the old AIDS.gov, with better search engine optimization.

From a personal standpoint, this change couldn’t come at a better time. Many changes are happening in the landscape of HIV and it is important that we start to destigmatize language if we are ever going to live in a world that has no new infections. Many use the term HIV and AIDS interchangeably, when in fact the two are very different, with many never progressing to an AIDS diagnosis. The introduction of PrEP coinciding with the rise in those who are becoming treatment adherent year over year is also creating an environment where there are less new infections and less individuals progressing past HIV; many of whom have undetectable statuses.

“The shift to HIV.gov is proactive and inclusive, and it sends a strong, supportive message to the 1.1 million people across America who are living with HIV,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

This is important to know that the epidemic of new infections is coming down. However, those from Black and Brown communities are still dealing with much higher levels of the virus than our white counterparts. This makes HIV.gov even more needed because vital information and resources will be available to those communities that most need it.

At the USCA 2016, several of us were invited to speak with those building out the website to give suggestions around language and site navigation, and to offer any tips and pointers on what information would be best for our clients. This approach served best in my opinion, as it allowed those who worked directly with clients to give the proper feedback needed to those who would be generating the content on the website.

“We’ve made important progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the United States. These improvements are the hard-won result of decades of work on the part of advocates, healthcare providers, researchers, the federal government—and many others—but our work is not done,” said Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., director of the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy. “The newly named website will bring people helpful, timely information to support our collective efforts to sustain and advance our progress in this fight.”

Check out the new website at www.HIV.gov