On behalf of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, we respectfully submit this testimony in support of increased funding for domestic HIV and hepatitis programs in the FY 2023 Labor, HHS spending bill. Our nation is on a path to eliminating two infectious diseases, HIV and viral hepatitis, but we need increased funding to accelerate our efforts particularly in communities and populations disproportionately impacted. Increased investment in surveillance, education, prevention, and care and treatment will ensure we continue to address HIV and viral hepatitis, including taking a syndemic approach to achieve maximum impact. The programs and funding increases detailed below are pivotal to our nation’s ability to end both HIV and hepatitis.
Letter in support of HIV and hepatitis provisions in the “Restoring Hope for Mental Helath and Well-Being Act of 2022” (H.R. 7666)
The HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, a national, non-profit organization whose mission is to promote quality and affordable healthcare for people living with or at risk of HIV, hepatitis, and other serious and chronic health conditions, is pleased to offer comments in support of the HIV and viral hepatitis provisions included in the “Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022” (HR 7666). This bipartisan bill introduced by Chairman Frank Pallone and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers reauthorizes key Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) programs to address the national mental health and substance use disorder crises. The subcommittee is expected to consider the bill tomorrow.
We cannot achieve the goal of ending hepatitis without increased funding for the key elements of the strategy, including testing, treating, and vaccination. Increasing resources for hepatitis elimination must be our first priority. While this draft hepatitis federal implementation plan was drafted with current resources in mind, there are areas where we would suggest some strengthening.
HIV+Hep strongly supports a recommendation for universal hepatitis B vaccination for all adults. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective, with over 1 billion doses administered worldwide and is estimated to have prevented over 310 million infections worldwide between 1990 and 2020. Despite highly effective vaccines, up to 2.4 million people in the United States may be living with chronic hepatitis B, and there are up to 80,000 new cases of hepatitis B each year. With the proper guidance and resources, each new infection is preventable.