Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy
Week ending: March 1, 2019
By: Sable K. Nelson & Matthew Rose
Drug-Company Patents vs. the Public Good: Should the NIH Break This Medication Patent?
Truvada, which is made by California-based Gilead Sciences, is the only drug approved by the FDA for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a course of treatment that can help reduce the risk of contracting HIV. But Truvada is expensive, in large part because it is still under patent and costs have spiked to nearly $2,000 a month in the U.S (by comparison, Truvada costs around $100 a year in other parts of the world where its patent was not extended). One proponent of the move is New York City Council speaker Cory Johnson, who has repeatedly called for the federal government to break Gilead’s patent on the drug. Johnson, spoke with WBUR’s Here & Now on Monday to reiterate his stance that the National Institutes of Health could use a 1980 law, the Bayh-Dole Act, to break a patent on a drug developed from research at least partially paid for by federal funds. For more information, READ → http://fortune.com/2019/03/04/gilead-sciences-truvada-hiv-aids-prep-cory-johnson-act-up/
Georgia House Passes PrEP Bill to Tackle HIV Epidemic
House Bill 290, which creates a three-year pilot program to provide free PrEP medication to people in counties identified by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as at risk of HIV outbreaks due to a high rate of opioid use, passed overwhelmingly in the Georgia House on Friday, March 1st. PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection by up to 92 percent, according to the CDC. State Rep. Sharon Cooper (top photo), a Republican from Marietta sponsored the legislation, cited the fact that Georgia is the number one state in the nation in the rate of new HIV infections. The bill passed the Georgia House 129 to 19 and will now go over to the Senate for consideration. For more information, READ → http://www.projectq.us/atlanta/georgia_house_passes_free_prep_bill_to_tackle_hiv_epidemic
HHS Requests Community Feedback on National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP)
Both the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP) expire in 2020. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP), in collaboration with federal partners, is leading development of the next iterations of these two separate and distinct national strategies. To help inform the next iterations of the NHAS and NVHAP, HHS seeks input from external stakeholders for improving efficiency, effectiveness, coordination, and accountability of HIV and viral hepatitis prevention, care, treatment, and cure policies, services, and programs.
SAVE THE DATE for the In-Person Listening Session on Friday, February 22, 2019: In-person Listening Session at HHS from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. (ET) in Room 800 of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, 20201. RSVP by Thursday, February 14 by sending your name, title, and organization to HepHIVStrategies@hhs.gov.
SHARE YOUR COMMENTS IN WRITING no later than 5:00 p.m. ET on March 11, 2019: In addition, we will soon publish a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register to solicit written comments, recommendations, and ideas for updating both the NHAS and the NVHAP. As soon as the RFI is published, NMAC will provide a link to it as well as information about its deadline for input.
Electronic responses are strongly preferred and may be addressed to HepHIVStrategies@hhs.gov.
Hardcopy written responses should be addressed to:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
330 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20024
Attention HIV/Viral Hepatitis RFI
All the input gathered from the listening sessions and responses to the RFI will be shared with our federal partners, who collectively will use that information to update the vision, goals, and strategies for both plans, as well as each agency’s actions for implementing them.
For more information, READ https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/08/2019-01695/request-for-information-rfi-improving-efficiency-effectiveness-coordination-and-accountability-of
London Patient Might be Second to be Cured of HIV
According to a case study to be published Tuesday in the journal Nature, an HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second known adult worldwide to be cleared of the virus that causes AIDS after he received a bone-marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor, his doctors said. The “London Patient” has been effectively cured of the viral infection which affects close to 37 million people worldwide. Like Brown, the new patient had a form of cancer and received a treatment involving chemotherapy to wipe out his immune system and replace it, via a stem cell transplant, with non-malignant donor cells. In both cases, the donor cells also carried an added benefit: a genetic mutation that leads to HIV immunity. Gupta’s team says the London patient’s treatment isn’t conventional for all HIV patients. But, does offer hope for future HIV and AIDS treatments. For more information, READ → https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/health/aids-cure-london-patient.html
Weeks After Trump Vowed to Eradicate HIV/AIDS, Report Shows Progress on Prevention Has Stalled
Just weeks after President Donald Trump vowed to eradicate HIV/AIDS in the next decade during his State of the Union address, a new CDC report says progress on HIV prevention has stalled. The new report also looked at trends in HIV infections among multiple subgroups. Gay and bisexual men continue to account for about 70 percent of new infections. Particularly concerning, new infections increased 30 percent among Latino gay and bisexual men. While new infections decreased for younger black and Latino gay and bisexual man, they increased about 65 percent among those aged 25 to 34 in both groups. The CDC says the decrease in HIV infections has likely plateaued because effective HIV prevention and treatment are not adequately reaching those who could most benefit from them. For more information, READ → https://www.cbsnews.com/news/weeks-after-trump-vowed-to-eradicate-hiv-report-shows-progress-on-prevention-has-stalled/?ftag=CNM-00-10aac3a
What You Can Do
TAKE ACTION: It is very important that our elected officials hear from us to protect federal funding for HIV prevention and care. Speak truth to power by sharing your personal stories with your elected officials. It is vitally important to meet to your federal elected officials when they are at home. If we don’t support and advocate for HIV funding and programs, who will? Our movement cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. Your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives need to hear from you.
- Find your U.S. Senators: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
- Find your U.S. Representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
What NMAC is Doing About It
- NMAC remains vigilant in its advocacy to protect FY20 government funding and the existence of the social safety net.
- NMAC is working in coalition to defend the right of people living with HIV to serve in the US military.