Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Julio Contreras March 29, 2021

Hill Happenings

FY2022 Appropriations

NASTAD and the AIDS Budget & Appropriations Coalition, a workgroup of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership, sent a letter urging Congressional Appropriators and the Biden Administration’s Office of Management and Budget to increase funding for domestic HIV and other infectious disease programs in the FY2022 Executive Budget and the fiscal appropriations package. The coalition of advocates highlight the critical need for increased funding to support the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prevention programs, including funding for the Division of Viral Hepatitis. Additionally, the coalition calls for the removal of the ban on use of federal funds towards purchasing syringes, and calls for additional resources to HIV/AIDS research at the National Institutes of health, HIV/AIDS housing programs, and to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Title X programs.

Additionally, NASTAD joined the Friends of the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Program coalition and called on Congressional Appropriators to increase funding for the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant in the FY2022 fiscal appropriations package. The coalition highlighted the program’s success in promoting health equity and reducing disparities in access to maternal and pediatric care experienced most acutely by Black, Tribal, Indigenous and other people of color.

Senate Confirms Dr. Rachel Levine’s Nomination to HHS Assistant Secretary

On March 24, the Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Dr. Rachel Levine as the next U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary of Health. Dr. Levine made history as the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. NASTAD supported the nomination of Dr. Levine. Her confirmation follows the Senate approval of the new HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and marks the quick staffing up of the health agency after an initial struggle to get nominees appointed.

Administrative Activity

NASTAD Urges HHS Leadership to Prioritize Racial and Health Equity in American Rescue Plan

NASTAD joined a coalition of 79 organizations and called on HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky to ensure that funding for COVID-19 public health response activities authorized through the American Rescue Plan prioritize the communities of color and tribal communities that are historically underserved and disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In particular, the coalition calls for targeted funding to specialized efforts by local, state, tribal and territorial public health agencies that are encouraged to work in partnership with and provide resources to community-based organizations that build trust, ensure access, and provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate services.


Updated Spanish Language FAQ: Vacunas contra la COVID-19 y VIH

HIV Medicine Association released an updated version of the Spanish language COVID-19 Vaccine and HIV FAQ: Vacunas contra la COVID-19 y VIH Preguntas frequentes. The document serves as a reference on common questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccines for providers who treat patients with HIV who primarily speak Spanish.

Issue Brief: Big Ideas: Improving the Health of People Who Use Drugs and People in Recovery Is Essential for Ending the HIV Epidemic

HIV and drug use are inextricably intertwined. Today, one in ten new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. are attributed to people who inject drugs, with other forms of drug use contributing to additional transmissions. New HIV cases among people who use drugs increased 9% from 2014 to 2018. Success at achieving the goals of the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) Initiative in the United States depends on improving the health of people who use drugs. The following policy actions are recommended: (1) Develop tailored plans with the meaningful participation of people who use drugs to respond to the unique challenges in each jurisdiction; (2) Deploy effective interventions at greater scale; and (3) Decriminalize substance use and re-orient drug use policy to enhance prevention, harm reduction, and treatment of addiction.”

CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Declines in Prevalence of Human Papillomavirus Vaccine-Type Infection Among Females after Introduction of Vaccine — United States, 2003–2018

AAP Pediatric HIV/AIDS Virtual Training Course – May 25-26,

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Pediatric AIDS is hosting the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Virtual Training Course on May 25-26, 2021. The comprehensive course will address all aspects of HIV management in infants, children, adolescents and young persons; and to present evidence-based data to optimize clinical practice. The course is intended for individuals that are interested in expanding their knowledge in HIV/AIDS care. Visit https://shop.aap.org/2021-pediatric-hiv-aids-training-course/ to view the agenda, access the course brochure, and to register for the course. If you have any questions, please contact Heather Stob at hstob@aap.org

Job Postings

COVID-19 Project Manager – Richmond, Virginia

The Virginia Department of Health is seeking a COVID-19 Project Manager in the Office of Epidemiology. This position works with various stakeholders to organize resources, communicate on projects, and provide reports to various levels of leadership. The COVID-19 Project Manager is primarily responsible for implementing project management processes, organizing timelines, communicating updates, escalating issues that are identified, and providing various reports that provide updates regarding the project’s status.

Clinic Operations Director—Baltimore, Maryland

The Clinic Operations Director position falls within the Division of Population Health and Disease Prevention at Baltimore City Health Department in the Bureau of Clinical Services and HIV/STI prevention. It reports directly to the Bureau Administrator of the Bureau of Clinical Services and HIV/STI Prevention. The medical direction of the clinics are led by 4 medical directors and 2 clinical chiefs. The clinic operations director will work in tandem with the medical directors and report to the bureau administrator. All 8 leadership positions work in an integrated and collaborative partnership. The Clinic Operations Director will oversee all operational aspects of the two clinics, as well as their integration into other aspects of the health department and coordination with other health department programs.

Assistant Commissioner - Health Department – Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) is seeking an Assistant Commissioner to lead the Bureau of Communicable Disease and Outbreak Control. This senior management position will lead a talented team responsible for communicable disease investigation, outbreak control and emergency preparedness programming. The incumbent will also be responsible for developing and implementing agency wide policies related to health department readiness to respond to public health emergencies. The incumbent will report directly to the Deputy Commissioner for BCHD’s Division of Population Health & Disease Prevention.   

U=U Global Knowledge & Advocacy Assistant – Brooklyn, NY

This is a challenging and meaningful entrepreneurial position with PAC’s Global U=U Knowledge and Advocacy Collaborative (KAC).  The KAC is in the early stage of growth, so this is a chance to be part of the conversation as global organizations, leaders, and activists join with in-country partners to support community-driven and sustainable U=U movements that change the narrative about HIV. This position will provide support on a variety of PAC's work with partners including conducting needs assessments; providing coalition-building support; curating, developing, and offering "best practices" training and communications materials to engage key audiences including clinicians, community, and policymakers; advising on public health communications; and integrating U=U into advocacy for policies and programs that will increase access to treatment and services.

Communicable Disease Epidemiologist – Cheyenne, Wyoming

This position will serve as the Communicable Disease AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Coordinator, Wyoming TB Controller, and Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) for the Communicable Disease (CD) Treatment Program.  Assist in outbreak response to ensure the safety of Wyoming residents; by interviewing cases for exposure information, updating news outlets on the progress of outbreak control, analyzing exposure data utilizing epidemiological and statistical methods.

Department of State Health Services, Program Informatics and Evaluation Group – Austin, TX

  • Program Specialist V - performs advanced (senior-level) consultative services for the Program Informatics and Evaluation Group within the integrated HIV/STD/TB Surveillance and Prevention unit of DSHS
  • Research Specialist V - conducts highly advanced (senior-level) research and analysis of program evaluation and epidemiologic data associated with HIV, particularly routine testing for HIV in clinical settings
  • Program Specialist IV - performs highly complex and advanced technical activities related to HIV, STD, and Tuberculosis data management and processing of HIV, STD, and TB laboratory reports

Director of Operations, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences – Boston, MA

The Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences (BIDLS) at the Department of Public Health (DPH) is seeking an experienced leader who is eager to join a mission-driven and fast-paced team in effectively and efficiently supporting the day-to-day operational needs of BIDLS.  The selected candidate will provide direct and indirect supervision to a total of 55 staff, including 4 Managers, and will oversee an annual budget in excess of $500M. To be successful, the incumbent of this position must be detail-oriented and also must understand the complexities of systems change and implementation in government systems, with the ability to ensure alignment with the Bureau’s and Department’s mission, goals, and objectives.

Open Positions – New York State

The New York State Department of Health, in partnership with Health Research, Inc, has various job openings, including some within the AIDS Institute. Please visit this link to learn about their current opportunities.

News Bulletin

Thousands of Texans With HIV Could Lose Access to Lifesaving Meds

“More than 21,000 Texans living with HIV get their meds through the state-run Texas HIV Medication Program, which covers the cost of treatment for low-income individuals. But now that Texas faces a budget crisis, Houston Public Media reports, these people could lose access to lifesaving HIV treatment.”

‘Incredibly Concerning’ Lawsuit Threatens No-Charge Preventive Care for Millions

“With a challenge to the Affordable Care Act still pending at the Supreme Court, conservatives are continuing to launch legal attacks on the law, including a case in which a Texas federal judge seems open to ending the requirement that most Americans must receive preventive services like mammograms free of charge.”

Stop Blaming Tuskegee, Critics Say. It’s Not an ‘Excuse’ for Current Medical Racism.

“’We have a tendency to use Tuskegee as a scapegoat, for us, as researchers, not doing what we need to do to ensure that people are well educated about the benefits of participating in a clinical trial…,’ said B. Lee Green, vice president of diversity at Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, who worked on the early research debunking the assumptions about Tuskegee’s legacy. ‘There may be individuals in the community who absolutely remember Tuskegee, and we should not discount that,’ he said. But hesitancy ‘is more related to individuals’ lived experiences, what people live each and every day.’”