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  WINDY CITY TIMES

100 HIV groups call on Congress to fund Biden's National PrEP Program
-- From a press release
2022-06-16

This article shared 1148 times since Thu Jun 16, 2022
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(New York City, NY) Wednesday, June 15, 2022—PrEP4All, Inc., along with 100 HIV organizations, are leading the push for Congress to fund a National Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Program that would increase equity and accessibility to the revolutionary HIV prevention drug for un- and under-insured Americans. PrEP, first approved by the FDA in July of 2012, has had dismal uptake among communities vulnerable to HIV infection. Funding of a National PrEP Program would drastically increase uptake, putting the U.S. closer to its goal of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030.

The 100 organizations along with the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership (FAPP), AIDS Budget and Appropriations Coalition (ABAC) and the HIV Prevention Action Coalition (HPAC) are urging Hon. Rosa L. DeLauro, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Patrick Leahy, Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Kay Granger, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations, and Hon. Richard Shelby, Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriations, to fund a new national PrEP program within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of HIV Prevention at $400 million in FY 2023.

The funding would be a necessary first step toward achieving the "PrEP for All to End the HIV Epidemic" program proposed in President Biden's FY 2023 Budget Request. President Biden's FY 2023 Budget Request called for a 10-year mandatory funding program to expand PrEP across the U.S. to provide medication to un- and under-insured individuals and to support and expand PrEP programs across a variety of agencies.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased barriers to PrEP access due to clinic closures, lost insurance due to unemployment, and shortage of lab supplies. Funding of a National PrEP Program is an essential investment to put the U.S. back on track to reach the ambitious targets put forth in President Trump's Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative. Advocates believe that Congress and the Federal government must quickly act to ensure that anyone who could benefit from PrEP can access the medication and other PrEP services without any costs.

"Queer, Black, and Brown communities—who bear the brunt of tens of thousands of new HIV infections each year— cannot afford to let any more time go by before we fully scale up PrEP access. And due to many issues involving cost, lack of insurance coverage and knowledge of PrEP, we've seen PrEP mostly benefit white Americans (and primarily white gay men in large cities) in the past decade since the first drug was approved for PrEP. To ensure equity, we need House and Senate appropriators to immediately fund a national PrEP program and leverage the cost savings power brought about by generic competition," said Jeremiah Johnson, PrEP Policy Manager for PrEP4All.

Both the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative rely on PrEP expansion as a key tool to ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. To achieve this, much more must be done. It is estimated that only 25% of people who could benefit from PrEP have received a prescription. PrEP use is highest among white people, at 66% of those who could benefit from receiving PrEP, yet only 9% of black people and 16% of Hispanic/Latino people who could benefit from PrEP in the United States have a prescription. Additionally, only 9.7% of women who could benefit from PrEP currently have a prescription. It is no coincidence that many of these same populations are disproportionately uninsured.

"A national PrEP program is an amazing opportunity to expand PrEP providers to include primary and other specialty (i.e., OB/GYN) care providers into the conversation around expanded PrEP access among communities highly affected by HIV. If we are going to see equity in access and initiation of PrEP for Black people, women, and Latino communities this approach is necessary," said Nationally Distinguished HIV Prevention Advocate Leisha McKinley-Beach.

Thanks to the generic PrEP driving the cost of daily oral PrEP down to as low as $20/month, Congress now has the opportunity to enact a PrEP program that will save the federal government money while achieving equitable access for all communities who need PrEP the most. With lifetime healthcare costs estimated at $500,000 for each new HIV diagnosis and around 35,000 new diagnoses each year in the US, an investment in PrEP access would both prevent the spread of HIV and significantly reduce health care costs.

"While our nation has an effective program to fund care and treatment for people living with HIV, if we are to meet the goals of ending HIV by 2030 we need an equally effective national program to fund PrEP access. With strong Congressional, Presidential and community support this is the year that we must make this a reality," said ABAC Co-chairs Carl Schmid of HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, Nick Armstrong of The AIDS Institute and Emily McCloskey Schreiber of NASTAD.

Read the letter here: nastad.org/sites/default/files/2022-06/PDF-ABAC%20HPAC%20PrEP4ALL%20National%20PreP%20Program%20Appropriations.pdf .


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