Many have expressed major disappointment after a bill went through last week that allocates funding for HIV testing, prevention, treatment, and research programs for areas in the U.S. most impacted by the virus. Instead of supporting the $245 million increase proposed in President Biden’s original budget, the final bill only increased the funding by $70 million, according to press release from the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute.
“After having to deal with COVID-19 these past two years, we were looking forward for our nation’s HIV prevention, care, and treatment programs getting back on track in ramping up their efforts to end HIV,” said Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, after the announcement was made March 9. “Unfortunately, the smaller than expected increases for the second year in a row will severely hamper these efforts and endanger our nation’s goal to end HIV by 2030.
The final bill, which was the product of negotiations between House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, also includes an almost $175 million in increases for other domestic HIV programs — over half of which are dedicated to AIDS research at the NIH. While this is good thing in many ways, HIV advocates argue that, currently, the funds are much more needed to promote prevention and treatment in underserved areas.
“We are especially disappointed that efforts to dramatically expand PrEP access to prevent HIV will not be able occur in the coming year,” said Schmid.
In addition, there was only a $1.5 million increase allocated to combatting viral hepatitis which was also a major disappointment to advocates and experts.
“If we are to implement the national strategic plan to eliminate hepatitis and do it by 2030, as the president supports, we are going to need a significant commitment of resources and the leadership to make it happen,” added Schmid. “Unfortunately, that is not going to be possible with this consistently low level of funding.”
The HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to promote quality and affordable healthcare for people living with or at risk of HIV, hepatitis, and other serious and chronic health conditions.