Recent votes by the U.S. House of Representatives that unsuccessfully sought to cut domestic HIV programs offer a clear signal that even a wide majority of the House reject domestic HIV funding cuts. Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the Labor, HHS appropriation bill that would have eliminated the HHS Minority HIV/AIDS Fund by a vote of 109 to 324. On that vote, more Republicans (110) voted against the amendment than for it. An amendment to cut AIDS research at the NIH was made in order by leadership but ultimately was never offered.
“While disappointed that Congress will not be providing the necessary funding to really end HIV or hepatitis in the United States, given the severe budget constraints, what the Senate has proposed will allow existing programs to at least continue,” Carl Schmid said. “However, it is up to the entire Congress, both the House and the Senate, to be responsible and agree upon our federal spending levels. The choices are very clear.”
“While we appreciate the sustained funding for many domestic HIV and hepatitis programs, we are devastated by the proposal to virtually eliminate the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative,” said Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. “We were on a trajectory to end HIV by ensuring all people have access to care and treatment, and prevent new infections through increasing access to PrEP, but now all those efforts will be lost. This bill cannot stand as is.”
CDC data released today shows that overall, the nation is on the right trajectory in decreasing the number of new HIV diagnoses with a marked decrease in new cases among young people. At the same time, while usage of PrEP, which are drugs that prevent HIV, significantly increased, it mostly benefited Whites, while the wide disparities in uptake for Blacks, Latinos, and women persisted.
“President Biden’s budget is yet another demonstration of his leadership in ending HIV. He recognizes the historic role the federal government must play, and the investments needed to end infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C,” commented Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. “Now, it is essential that Congress works together to ensure it maintains the federal government’s commitment to ending HIV and at the same time, invests the necessary resources to end hepatitis. We also must guard against any erosion in funding of these programs, as some have proposed,” continued Schmid.