Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy
Year ending: December 18, 2018
By: Sable K. Nelson & Matthew Rose
Another year in the books and the norm continues of some hot HIV takes in this last month of the year. NMAC wants to give you the highlights of what is happening at this time of year. While this will not be an exhaustive list, it will be a marking of things that we are actively working on at the end of this year. We’ll be back into the new year with highlights and actions to take in the political arena. If you have any questions, do feel free to email us.
Ending the Epidemic
For the first time since the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in 2010, the domestic HIV community has come together to call on the U.S. government to declare an official goal of ending the domestic HIV epidemic by 2025 and urging it to enact legislative and regulatory policies and sufficient appropriations to achieve this goal. The Act Now: End AIDS coalition, with a process managed by AIDS United, solicited input from the larger HIV, public health, and reproductive health communities to develop the policy paper, titled Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States: A Roadmap for Federal Action. To date, 300 HIV and community organizations from across the U.S. have provided their endorsement.
Once again PEPFAR has been reauthorized with strong bipartisan support. For 15 years, PEPFAR helped to share critical resources to help fight the HIV epidemic aboard. In the areas of HIV prevention, treatment, and care, some of the world’s most vulnerable populations have benefited from this program, saving more than 17 million lives. PEPFAR has continued to support a rapid acceleration of HIV prevention by using data to increase program performance, mobilize domestic resources, and support local partners for sustainable implementation.
Announcements from the Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar assured the HIV community on Tuesday that new proposals around Medicare Part D would not cut off critical access to lifesaving medications. The administration had proposed some changes to programs that could significantly hinder access for those living with HIV. In a speech at the 2018 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment in Maryland, Azar said the administration’s recent proposal to allow Medicare Part D plans to negotiate better prices for drugs in “protected class” would not limit access to antiretrovirals used to treat HIV. Public comment about this proposed rule is due at the end of next Monday. Furthermore, the Secretary also announced two co-chairs for the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS: Carl Schmid and John Wiesman. Schmid serves as deputy executive director of The AIDS Institute. Wiesman is Secretary of Health for Washington state.
Administration threats future of HIV research
On December 5, 2018, the Washington Post broke a story about the Trump administration — by and through the Department of Health and Human Services — potentially curtailing an HIV research contract after pressure from anti-abortion activists because the project relies on fetal tissue to generate mice with humanized immune systems, an important animal model for HIV research. Other similar research is also likely to come under threat. (WaPo story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-administration-threatens-future-of-hiv-research-hub/2018/12/04/f2e8e0ec-f7dd-11e8-863c-9e2f864d47e7_story.html?utm_term=.7d9094e88286)