Wyden, Merkley Call for HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention Funding in Next COVID-19 Response Package

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today called on Senate leadership to include federal funding for HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention, and housing programs in the next COVID-19 pandemic response package.

The letter with 18 colleagues comes on the eve of the 25th anniversary of National HIV Testing Day on June 27.

“This additional support for HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention, and housing programs is critical for ensuring that we can respond to two different pandemics that have impacted millions of Americans,” the senators wrote.

The letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) urges funding for the following programs in the next COVID-19 package:

·     $500 million for HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program: Funding to support Ryan White Program providers and community-based organizations who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Services and resources provided by this program include telehealth services, case management services, medications (prescription and over-the-counter), behavioral health services, and access to basic necessities, such as food and shelter. The additional funding for this program will also help people living with HIV and AIDS maintain access to care and treatment; meet the new needs of people living with HIV and AIDS who are without health insurance; keep clinics open and providers employed; and prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19. 

·     $100 million for CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention: Funding to support core HIV prevention activities, personnel to respond to COVID-19, HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) initiations, and telehealth services at state and local health departments and community-based organizations. 

·     $65 million for HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program: Funding to support housing and rental assistance for people living with AIDS to promote the safety of clients, families, and the community

·     $58 million for CDC’s Infectious Disease and Opioid Program and Ending the Ban on Federal Funding for Syringe Service Programs: Funding to support Syringe Services Programs (SSPs), one of the most effective ways to prevent drug overdoses, as well as engage and serve individuals who use drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic already has resulted in increased drug overdoses, homelessness, and unemployment, and now is the time to end the ban on federal funding for syringes and other supplies, and support infectious diseases and opioid programs at the CDC. Clients trust SSPs as care providers and sources of support including shelter, food, health care, and access to medication assisted treatment.

National groups supporting the effort include the HIV Medicine Association, AIDS Budget and Appropriations Coalition, National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), and The AIDS Institute.

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, other senators signing the letter led by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The full letter is here.

A web version of this release is here.