Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Julio Contreras July 26, 2021

Hill Happenings

FY2022 Appropriations

Congressional Appropriators are working to draft and markup federal spending bills for fiscal year 2022 (FY2022) ahead of a September 30 funding deadline. Appropriators in the House of Representatives are rapidly advancing spending bills, but some lawmakers are anticipating that a protracted appropriations negotiations process in the Senate may necessitate the adoption of a continuing resolution to keep the government open as lawmakers work out an agreement.

On July 15, the House Appropriations Committee passed the LHHS funding bill out of full committee by a 33-25 vote. Democrats plan to introduce the bill on the House floor this week, packaged in a FY2022 appropriations minibus along with six other spending bills. On July 26, the House Rules Committee convened to determine which amendments to the minibus will be considered on the House floor.

Senate Appropriators have yet to release any FY2022 funding bills or announce a markup schedule, although the Senate Labor-HHS bill is expected to be marked-up after the August recess. NASTAD will continue to monitor the FY2022 appropriations process to advocate for the highest funding levels on behalf of HIV and hepatitis programs.

Administrative Activities

NASTAD Calls on Biden Administration to Nominate Global AIDS Coordinator

NASTAD joined a coalition of 50 organizations and called on the Biden Administration to nominate a leader for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) as the Department of State’s U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. PEPFAR has been without a permanent leader for more than seven months, marking the longest period of time that the global health initiative has been without a leader. The coalition of advocates highlight the urgent need to fill the role at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse more than a decade and a half of significant, hard-earned gains in preventing HIV transmission and decreasing HIV-related deaths.

HHS Announces New National Challenge to Reduce HIV-Related Stigma and Disparities

On July 22, HHS announced the launch of The HIV Challenge, a national competition to engage communities to reduce HIV-related stigma and increase prevention and treatment among racial and ethnic minority people. Through this challenge, HHS is seeking innovative and effective approaches to increase the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis medication (PrEP) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) among people who are at increased risk for HIV or are people with HIV. The HIV Challenge is open to the public, and HHS will award a total of $760,000 to 15 winners over three phases. Phase 1 submissions are open from July 26, 2021, through September 23, 2021.

CDC Observes World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day, observed yearly on July 28, represents an opportunity to draw attention to the global burden of viral hepatitis and to recognize the public health professionals and organizations making the elimination of viral hepatitis a global priority. Organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC, commemorate WHD to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, which impacts more than 354 million people worldwide. The vision of CDC is to eliminate viral hepatitis in the United States and globally. CDC collaborates with international partners to help countries experiencing high rates of infection to prevent, control, and eliminate viral hepatitis.

CDC Updates STI Treatment Guidelines and Releases Study of Preliminary STD Cases in 2020

On July 23, CDC released updated treatment guidelines for people who have or are at risk for sexually transmitted infections. The guidance specifies operational determinants of quality services in various clinical settings, describes on-site treatment and partner services, and indicates when STI-related conditions should be managed through consultation with or referral to a specialist. The new guidelines incorporate updated clinical information since the last guidelines were issued in 2015.

Additionally, on July 16, the CDC released new data that show an increase in the overall level of STDs for a 12-year period ending on December 2020. Despite a dramatic decrease in in reported STDs during March and April of 2020, a resurgence of gonorrhea and syphilis cases later in the year suggest overall STDs may have increased during 2020. Limitations on STD service delivery imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as reduced screening and stay-at-home orders, likely contributed to the initial decrease in reported cases. The report authors call for increased access to STD express clinics and telemedicine to close gaps in testing and treatment.

Resources

NASTAD Fact Sheet: NASTAD PrEP Coverage Brief: PrEP Services Covered with No Cost-Sharing

NASTAD published this new resource on coverage and cost-sharing requirements for public and private payers that come with the USPSTF Grade A recommendation for PrEP. It summarizes federal guidance on implementing Preventive Services provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including new federal sub-regulatory guidance addressing PrEP services released on July 19, 2021.

HRSA Webinar Recording and Slides: Identifying and Incorporating into Practice Screening Tools for People with HIV who are Aging in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau hosted a webinar on July 20 on identifying and incorporating into practice screening tools for people with HIV who are aging in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP). The webinar featured two RWHAP providers who presented on how specific screening tools that assess functional (mobility, frailty, and falls) and cognitive impairments can be selected for use and integrated in clinical settings. 

HCMSG Webinar: Eliminating Hepatitis C: From the Clinic to the Streets

Date & Time: Wednesday, July 28 at 4:00 – 5:00 PM ET

Summary: HCMSG is hosting a webinar addressing the impact of Hepatitis C in underserved and overlooked populations. Hear directly from our medical providers at HCMSG about some of the real world challenges we face in order to reach elimination. We invite patients, providers, peers, and community based organizations to join us.

HHS NOFO: Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for Promoting Vaccine Confidence in Local Communities through Partnership with HHS Regional Health Offices

The Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) and the Office of the Regional Health Operations (ORHO), Office of Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services, announced a funding opportunity to support innovative practices in local communities that increase vaccine confidence and promote uptake of vaccines that are routinely recommended for adults and children, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities, adolescents and young adults, pregnant people, residents in rural communities, and others with low vaccination coverage rates. Applications are due August 17, 2021.

2021 Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium

Date: September 29-30

As part of the HRSA-funded Special Project of National Significance (SPNS): Evidence-Informed Approaches to Improving Health Outcomes for People Living with HIV, Howard Brown Health will host the virtual 2021 Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium taking place on September 29-30. This year's theme is Community Informed Care is a Radical Act. The goal of the conference is to provide a space for healthcare professionals, educators, researchers, and advocates from across the country to disseminate evidence-based practices and engage in rigorous discussion around issues relating to the health of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.

Job Postings

Health Scientist, HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau – Rockville, MD

This position is located in the Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau, Division of Policy and Data, Special Projects of National Significance Branch. Some major duties and responsibilities include providing technical guidance for the evaluation of HIV/AIDS service programs administered by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Special Projects of National Significance; designing, analyzing, and disseminating HIV/AIDS service program data to facilitate program monitoring as well as determine the most effective methods for disseminating findings from aggregate- and client-level data collection systems; identifying, designing, and conducting analyses (qualitative and/or quantitative) of program data and preparing written and analytical reports; and providing expertise on planning, designing, and developing materials and documents for dissemination.

Director of the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy – Washington, DC

This position is located in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH). OASH coordinates public health and science activities across HHS components. The incumbent will serve as the senior level advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) on health policies, procedures, and activities relating to infectious disease and related policy and program development. The incumbent provides strategic leadership, oversight, direction and coordination of policies, programs, and activities designed to prevent the occurrence of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, and other emerging communicable diseases.

NASTAD Assistant, Program and Policy – Remote/Washington, DC

The Assistant, Program and Policy will support NASTAD’s program and policy teams by providing administrative and logistical support for the Senior Directors/Directors. The ideal candidate will be motivated, highly organized, and able to follow through on tasks with minimal prompting. Demonstrated ability to execute projects in a timely manner and precise attention to detail are required.

NASTAD Senior Associate, Prevention – Remote/Washington, DC

The Senior Associate, Prevention, as part of NASTAD’s Prevention team, supports the organization’s capacity to support health departments’ (HDs) implementation of Ending the HIV Epidemic plans. The position works primarily on NASTAD’s CDC-funded “Strategic Partnerships and Planning to Support Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States” (PS19-1906 Component A) project to provide technical assistance to HDs implementing CDC PS20-2010 Component A.

2021-2022 HepVu Fellowship

HepVu is focusing on empowering new voices by offering three fellowship opportunities for researchers in viral hepatitis and HIV spaces. Each fellow will be awarded a $10,000 personal stipend to conduct a research project related to HIV, Hepatitis C, or both, using data on AIDSVu and/or HepVu, along with other data sources. Priority will be given to research proposals that address health disparities and/or relevant intersections such as syndemics, the opioid epidemic, social determinants of health, STIs, etc. We believe communities affected by these health disparities should be centered in the work we do and strongly encourage applications from underrepresented groups in the HIV and Hepatitis C space. Fellows’ research will be featured on the Vu platforms and used to further illustrate the impact of HIV and/or viral hepatitis in the U.S.

New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control

  • ID Care Services Program Manager (Public Health Program Manager #43569, Job ID 20909): This full-time position leads the dynamic NH Ryan White CARE Program and NH TB Financial Assistance Program teams.
  • HIV Surveillance Coordinator (Program Specialist III #18990, Job ID 21123): This full-time epidemiologist position is responsible for HIV/AIDS case and cluster/outbreak surveillance activities, develops routine and ad hoc reports and data analysis projects, and supports related health equity initiatives.
  • STD Surveillance Statistical Assistant (Statistical Assistant #19623, Job ID 21093): This full-time position is responsible for supporting STD case surveillance activities, communicating with healthcare providers, and conducting preliminary data analyses.
  • Viral Hepatitis Coordinator (Health Promotion Advisor #42860 , Job ID 20743): This full-time position is responsible for coordinating state-wide viral hepatitis activities including prevention, testing, treatment and linkage to care activities.
  • ID Care Services Quality Management Specialist (Program Specialist IV #9T2810, Job ID: 19231). This full-time position plans and evaluates the quality management areas of the NH Ryan White CARE Program. Provides subject matter expertise with regard to quality improvement methodology and HIV specific performance measures, to demonstrate measured improvements in HIV care across NH.
  • COVID-19 Public Health Nurse Specialist (Public Health Nurse Specialist #9T2809, Job ID 20592). This full-time registered nurse position will join a multi-disciplinary team responsible for COVID-19 case investigation, contact tracing and outbreak response

Statewide Deputy Medical Director, HIV/STD/Viral Hepatitis -- Nashville, Tennessee

Primary responsibilities include leadership and oversight of programs related to HIV prevention and treatment in Tennessee. This position will supervise and provide mentorship to the directors of HIV Prevention and Surveillance and the Ryan White Part B program. Utilize data to guide program and policy development and will provide clinical and programmatic oversight for the implementation of all related prevention and treatment activities. Requires management and leadership skills.

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.

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.

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

How can HIV research better align with the realities of transgender and gender-diverse people?

“Transgender and gender-diverse activists and researchers, in partnership with the advocacy organisation AVAC, introduced a powerful manifesto to align HIV prevention research with their current realities and needs, entitled No Data No More at the 11thInternational AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2021) this week.”

Record Overdose Deaths Prompt Congress to Reconsider Needle Aid

“Chris Abert describes his work as essential and precarious, an effort that saves lives but operates on the margins. He’s hoping Congress, for the first time, will help. ‘Funding for us is so precarious right now, the legality of what we’re doing is precarious,’ said Abert, founder of the Indiana Recovery Alliance, which distributed more than 1 million syringes to people in the state last year and thousands of doses of the opioid overdose-reversing naloxone.”

Missouri Supreme Court Revives Medicaid Expansion In The State

“An additional 275,000 low-income individuals in Missouri are again eligible for publicly funded health care. In a unanimous opinion handed down Thursday, the state Supreme Court ruled that a 2020 ballot initiative to expand Medicaid did not require lawmakers to appropriate money, and therefore did not violate state law.”