Senate appropriators provide substantial increases for ending HIV in the U.S.
Funding for Hepatitis Programs Falls Short
Washington DC… Senate appropriators have proposed an increase of $207 million for ramping up efforts to end HIV in the United States in its FY2021 Labor, HHS, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill released today. This builds on the $300 million Congress appropriated for the first year of the historic initiative to end HIV by 2030 by scaling up HIV testing, prevention, and treatment programs in jurisdictions most impacted by HIV.
“We thank the committee for including increases for the second year of the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative,” commented Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. “Now we must ensure that the House of Representatives concurs with these increases in the final spending bill so that we can continue the momentum already created and make further progress in ending HIV in the U.S.”
In the Senate bill, the committee is proposing increases of $60 million for CDC’s HIV prevention efforts; $50 million for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program; $87 million for the Community Health Centers to focus on PrEP, a once-daily pill that prevents HIV transmission; and an added $10 million for NIH’s Centers for AIDS Research.
The president’s budget had called for an increase of $412 million to these programs to scale up HIV prevention and treatment efforts to meet the goals of ending HIV by 2030. The House of Representatives, in its FY2021 bill, proposed a $55 million increase, including $5 million for the Indian Health Service, which the Senate has not included. The House bill includes important funding increases for some other domestic HIV programs, including an increase of $20 million for HUD’s Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA). The Senate is proposing that HOPWA be flat funded in FY2021.
The Senate bill also proposes to increase funding by $5 million for CDC’s Eliminating Opioid Related Infectious Diseases program to address HIV and hepatitis for a total of $15 million. The House did not propose any increase to this program.
Unfortunately, the Senate bill fails to address the increasing burden of hepatitis in our country, especially considering there are cures and vaccines available that can lead to hepatitis eradication. CDC’s Hepatitis Division is flat funded at only $39 million, which is woefully inadequate to conduct hepatitis surveillance, screening, education, linkage to care, and outbreak response programs throughout the country, particularly as a result of the ongoing opioid crisis.
While the House bill recommends the removal of the federal funding ban on the purchase of sterile syringes, which are used to prevent HIV and hepatitis, the Senate bill continues the ban.
HIV+Hep looks forward to working with the Congress as it finalizes the FY2021 spending bills so that all these programs involved in addressing HIV and hepatitis will be sufficiently funded in the future and progress can be made to end these infectious diseases.