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Federal Appropriations Bill is Marked for HIV, PrEP Spending

The proposed funding will include a number of measures of spending towards HIV and prevention, including community centers for PrEP education.

Senate lawmakers released their Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill in October. The bill includes sizable increases for HIV programs, often matching what President Joe Biden proposed in his budget but falling short of the House bill.

In this bill, which is expected to go to the Appropriations Committee for consideration some of the spending for programs includes:

  • Matching the House and Biden's proposed increase of at least $245 million to domestic HIV programs.
  • Proposing a $31 million increase to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which serves low-income people living with HIV and primarily serves communities of color. This matches President Biden's request but falls short of the House bill by $100 million.
  • Proposing a $20 million increase for the HUD's Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS. This matches President Biden's budgetary ask but is far less than the $170 million increase requested by the House.
  • Removing the ban on using federal funding to purchase sterile syringes for needle exchanges, like the House bill before it.

The HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute is an organization involved in HIV and hepatitis advocacy, and they are closely watching the bill and actively working to aid in its passage.

The organization’s Executive Director Carl Schmid sees a lot of positive proposed funding in the bill and is especially excited about the funding for community centers for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

“Right now, the last 2 years they [the community centers] have gotten $100 million to increase PrEP activities, and this bill would increase it by another $50 million to focus on PrEP activities,” Schmid said.

In addition, the Biden Administration is also looking at addressing HIV/PrEP and is ready to release an updated National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan.

Congress and the Biden administration have a lot on their plates at the moment, and the Build Back Better bill which looks at social safety net programs, appears to be the federal government’s top priority. With that bill front of mind and the impending holidays, it’s not been determined when Congress will circle back around to looking at HIV/PrEP spending.

While the proposed federal spending plans and bills remain paramount, The HIV+ Hepatitis Policy Institute continues to stay involved in other initiatives involving HIV/PrEP. For example, the organization has been looking at PrEP coverage for medical Insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, some preventive services are supposed to be covered, and this includes PrEP. Under the act, there is not supposed to be shared costs for users, so it makes it free to people who decide to use it.

“We really want to make the use of PrEP very easy for people, and what we are finding is that they [insurance carriers] are putting PrEP on higher tiers, which when you have higher tiers you have cost sharing, and that may turn people away,” Schmid explained.

Contagion spoke to Schmid about his organization, the appropriations bill, the institute’s work on PrEP spot checks regarding insurance carriers, and addressing health equity issues around HIV/PrEP.