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While No Cuts to HIV, STD, and Hepatitis Funding, FY2019 Labor-HHS Funding Bills Fall Short on Tackling Infectious Diseases Tied to Opioid Epidemic
National HIV, STD, and Hepatitis Policy Partnership Statement on House and Senate Versions of FY19 Labor-HHS Bills
Washington, D.C. – Five of the nation’s leading organizations focused on ending the HIV, STD, and hepatitis epidemics in the United States – AIDS United, NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors, NMAC, and The AIDS Institute – applaud the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for sustaining critical funding for HIV, STD, and hepatitis programs. The House and Senate Committees’ Fiscal Year 2019 Labor-HHS Appropriations bills represent an essential step in ensuring funding for the nation’s public health infrastructure but fall short on necessary resources to reduce new infections and combat infectious diseases exacerbated by the nation’s opioid crisis. The funding bills also include dangerous policy riders that would prohibit critical funding for ACA patient navigators and safer consumption sites and create additional barriers for accessing reproductive services for those who need them the most.
The House and Senate are both proposing to maintain funding for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides a comprehensive system of care that includes access to life-saving medication, primary medical care, and essential support services for more than half of all people living with HIV in the United States. Funding to the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention is also maintained. Additionally, the House has proposed a new $20 million “Infectious Disease Elimination Initiative” while the Senate included $5 million for “Infectious Diseases and the Opioid Epidemic.”
The nation’s opioid epidemic remains virulent and has led to a rise in injection-drug use, increases in viral hepatitis, HIV, and STDs, particularly among young adults. There remains a desperate need for increased funding to address the rapid rise in STD cases domestically (at the highest level ever recorded), skyrocketing cases of new hepatitis C infections, as well as a recent uptick in HIV among people who inject drugs. In fact, the number of new hepatitis C cases nationwide more than tripled between 2010 and 2016, and hepatitis C now kills more Americans than all other 60 notifiable infectious diseases combined. More than two-thirds of these new cases are due to injection drug use.
We commend the appropriations committees for sustaining crucial HIV, STD, and hepatitis funding, but stand against ill-advised policy riders included in the House bill that impede access to care to those who need it most. Sustaining the gains made in the struggle against viral hepatitis, HIV, and STDs and tackling the surging number of infectious diseases associated with the opioid epidemic will require greater investments. As Congress continues its work on these bills, we hope they will find ways to increase funding for each of these critical programs.
AIDS United (AU), NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), NMAC, and The AIDS Institute (TAI) are national non-partisan, non-profit organizations focused on ending HIV in the U.S. They have been working in partnership to identify and share resources to sustain successes and progress we have made in HIV and STD prevention, care and treatment in the United States.