Imagine if Congress, with one simple action, could help end a 40-year-old epidemic, erase some of the racial inequities in healthcare, and save money in the process. That may sound too good to be true. But lawmakers can do it if they fund expanding access programs to a highly effective HIV drug in the 2023 spending bill.
As the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies considers this week what programs to fund in the 2023 budget, many public health concerns will demand their attention. One funding decision that would aim to end HIV — and that goal can be achieved — would also provide long-term benefits for the entire health care system. HIV continues to infect thousands of Americans each year, many of them gay men, even though an effective prevention tool known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is available. PrEP, which lowers the risk of contracting HIV by 99%, was first approved by the FDA in 2012 as a daily pill and is now available in a superior form as an every-other-month injection.
The leadership of the US Senate Appropriations Committee delivered welcome news recently to HIV and public health advocates with the release of their fiscal year 2022 spending bills. Like their colleagues in the House, the Senate has proposed significant funding increases to the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative with at least $245 million more to focus on increased testing, prevention, treatment, and research programs. This matches the amount proposed in President Biden’s budget and approved by the House.