WHY WE ADVOCATE
Congress, working with the States, community-based organizations, advocates and other stakeholders, has an unprecedented opportunity to end HIV, stem the tide of new STD infections, and eliminate hepatitis in America within our lifetimes; but, only if Federal programs are adequately funded efforts to expand access to HIV, STD, and hepatitis prevention, treatment, and research efforts. Now more than ever, investment by Congress in public health programs is critical for reaching these goals.
Despite our best medical advances to date, HIV remains a non-curable infectious disease and just under 50% of people living with HIV are virally suppressed or have the virus under control through treatment, STD infection rates have reached a record high in the United States, and the rate of new hepatitis C (HCV) cases continues to increase despite the availability of a cure. HCV has become more deadly than all 60 other reportable infectious diseases combined. Due in large part to our nation’s current opioid crisis, rates of new hepatitis infections are skyrocketing. The recent rise in injection-drug use tied to opioid misuse has also had serious implications for our efforts to combat HIV and STD infections.
Our history shows us we can successfully treat those living with HIV, STDs, and hepatitis and prevent new cases. The Partnership will continue to work with policymakers to protect the nation’s public health and ensure the progress made over the past decades in the struggle against HIV, STDs, and hepatitis continues.
HIV Prevention & Care
Prevention: Despite tremendous progress with HIV prevention efforts, there are still an estimated 38,500 new infections each year. Continued funding for the CDC is needed to maintain recent gains and intensify prevention efforts in communities where HIV is the most prevalent. We must also expand access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of infection to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool and can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone.
Care: The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides a critical and comprehensive system of care that includes access to lifesaving medication to low income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals living with HIV in the U.S. through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), primary medical care, and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured, including premium assistance. As the program struggles to keep up with demand amid a changing and uncertain healthcare landscape, continued funding is critically important now and in the future to ensure that access to healthcare, medications, and other services for people with HIV are consistently maintained.
Housing: The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program provides housing assistance and related supportive services for low-income people living with HIV and their families. Housing is the greatest unmet need for people living with HIV. Adequate funding for HOPWA is needed to ensure safe, affordable housing for low-income people living with HIV.
SMAIF: Racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. are disproportionately impacted by HIV. The Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative aims to improve the HIV-related health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The resources for MAI are designed to encourage capacity building, innovation, collaboration, and the integration of best practices.
STD infections are at an all-time high in the U.S and these epidemics are worsening. A growing body of evidence shows that these epidemics are inextricably linked with the HIV and opioid epidemics. Sexually transmitted infections increase an individual’s risk of acquiring HIV, can result in severe birth defects, including infant death, and cause infertility and other negative health outcomes. Our nation must provide adequate and robust investments in STD prevention programs at the CDC. We must appropriately fund our public health infrastructure to address these growing epidemics.
While there is a cure for HCV, there has been a 350% increase in the number of new cases between 2010 and 2016. And of the 3.5 million people living with HCV, only half are aware of their status. The elimination of hepatitis B and C in the United States is within our reach, but not without increased investments in comprehensive, national hepatitis prevention, screening, linkage to care, education and surveillance programs.
The current opioid epidemic is a public health crisis not only because of its ties to injection drug use and overdoses, but also because of its role in increases in infectious diseases like HIV, STDs, and hepatitis. Increased funding will enable the CDC and its grantees to better tackle these recent opioid-related spikes in infections, help jurisdictions scale up prevention efforts, including syringe service programs, increase infectious disease testing and linkage to care and treatment, and fund comprehensive viral hepatitis surveillance systems.
- STDs cost our healthcare system $16 billion annually.
- People living with HIV reside in every Congressional district, state, and territory of this country.
- There are 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S., with an estimated 38,500 new cases each year.
- Hepatitis C kills more Americans than any other infectious disease. Half of those infected with hepatitis C do not know that they have the virus. Since 2010, there has been a 350% increase in new infections, primarily due to the opioid crisis.
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