PHILADELPHIA—The AIDS Activities Coordinating Office (AACO) of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health is changing its name. Effective February 1, 2023, this office will be known as the Division of HIV Health (DHH).

AACO was established in 1987 by Mayor W. Wilson Goode to manage the growing HIV epidemic in Philadelphia. However, since 1987, there have been significant changes in the treatment and prevention of HIV. When AACO was first established in the late 1980’s, AIDS was a death sentence. “Today, according to Dr. Kathleen Brady, Director of the Division of HIV Health, most people with HIV will never develop AIDS. Therefore, the term AIDS is no longer reflective of the work of the Division. Its focus is now on health. Thanks to the advances in HIV treatment, a person with HIV can expect to live an essentially normal life span and healthier lives. In addition, the DHH’s health focus, which includes preventing people from getting HIV, is assisted by the availability of more tools than ever to effectively prevent HIV.”

The Health Department’s Division of HIV Health also has primary responsibility for managing federal, state, and local government funding to support HIV-related services within the City of Philadelphia as well as HIV care services in the eight counties surrounding Philadelphia in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. DHH administers all public resources available to the City for HIV prevention, care, and collection of HIV-related public health data, including coordination of various City, state, and federal resources, including Ending the HIV Epidemic-specific funding. The division achieves its objectives primarily by funding not-for-profit health care and human services organizations to provide specific HIV services. It also monitors service providers and assures the delivery of high-quality services that meet or exceed the standards of performance required by PDPH and its state and federal funders.

Philadelphia is one of 48 counties in the United States selected to receive federal funding to combat the HIV epidemic under the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) initiative. The plan’s overall goal is a 75% reduction in new HIV diagnoses by 2025 and a 90% reduction in new HIV diagnoses by 2030. The Division of HIV Health aims to reach these goals by focusing on five key pillars:

  1. Diagnose all people with HIV as early as possible.
  2. Treat people with HIV rapidly and effective to reach sustained viral suppression.
  3. Prevent new HIV transmissions by using proven interventions, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and syringe service programs (SSPs).
  4. Respond quickly to potential HIV outbreaks to get needed prevention and treatment services to people who need them, and
  5. Eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, attain health literacy, and provide the highest level of customer service to improve the health and well-being of people with HIV and those at increased risk of exposure.

For more information on the Division of HIV Health, its work, and associated programs, please visit the pages below.