Despite Gains in HIV, STD, and Hepatitis Funding, Omnibus
Bill Falls Short on Opioid Funding for Infectious Diseases
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 Congress and the Administration for restoring critical funding for HIV and STDs and bolstering hepatitis programs. The Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations represents a down payment on shoring up the nation’s public health infrastructure, but it also falls short on necessary resources to combat the nation’s opioid crisis and associated infectious diseases.
With STD cases at the highest level ever recorded, Congress restored important funding for STD prevention, reversing a cut of $5 million that was passed last year. Congress also rejected proposed cuts to domestic HIV programs, including to the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative, a crucial source of funding for HIV prevention, care, and treatment for communities of color, as well as the Ryan White Program and CDC HIV Prevention Programming. What’s more, Congress increased funding for the Housing Opportunities for People Living with AIDS (HOPWA) Program. We commend this action, but we also know more must be done to reduce the impact of HIV and STDs on our nation.
Congress also increased CDC hepatitis funding by $5 million, to $39 million, but it is far from the $100 million we believe is needed to institute prevention and education programs, increase testing and linkage to care and treatment, and implement surveillance systems to ensure jurisdictions across the country are adequately equipped to tackle the rapid increases in hepatitis and HIV due to injection drug use.
Moreover, our nation’s opioid epidemic remains virulent. The recent rise in injection-drug use not only accounts for a significant increase in overdoses, but also increases in hepatitis C, HIV, and STDs, particularly among young adults. The number of new hepatitis C cases nationwide nearly tripled between 2010 and 2015, and hepatitis C now kills more Americans than all other 60 notifiable infectious diseases combined. And STD rates show no signs of decline.
We commend Congress and the Administration for restoring crucial HIV and STD funding, and for expanding investment in viral hepatitis prevention — however minimal. Drug treatment and infectious disease prevention efforts can significantly reduce opioid addiction, overdose deaths, and new blood-borne infections. But sustaining the headway made in the struggle against hepatitis C, HIV, and STDs will require more than the bare minimum if we do not want to risk years of progress being undone.
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, STD, and hepatitis prevention, care and treatment in the United States.