Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Garrett Eberhardt October 1, 2019

Hill Happenings

Senate Passes Latest Round of Spending Bills, Short-Term Funding Agreement

Late last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up fiscal year 2020 (FY2020) appropriations bills on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Homeland Security; and the Legislative Branch. Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) has proposed passing the less controversial bills, but others in the Senate want to include Defense, Homeland Security, or Military Construction in the vote. The impeachment inquiry launched last week by Democrats in the House of Representatives further may complicate negotiations with the White House on appropriations.

The Senate also passed H.R. 4378 in an 82-15 vote, funding the federal government through November 21st. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law over the weekend. The continuing resolution provides more time for Congress to come to an agreement on FY2020 appropriations bills. While the continuing resolution does not include an anomaly for funding the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative, both the House and Senate Labor-HHS bills include increased funding. NASTAD remains optimistic that the funding will be secured when FY2020 is finalized.  bills include increased funding. NASTAD remains optimistic that the funding will be secured when FY2020 is finalized.

Administration Activities

CDC Seeking Public Comment on Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is seeking public comment on updating Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings. CDC is soliciting feedback on the best approaches on HIV screening in clinical settings and prompt linkage to treatment and care. CDC is seeking to update the guideline to ensure that HIV testing providers, public health agencies, and other stakeholders have access to up-to-date and consistent information about new evidence, current approaches, and resources for HIV testing in clinical settings.

PEPFAR 2019 Annual Report to Congress Released

Last week, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) released its 2019 Annual Report to Congress outlining its global HIV/AIDS response. This year’s report highlights that since September 30, 2018, the program has supported lifesaving antiretroviral treatment for more than 14.6 million people, led to more than 2.4 million babies being born HIV-free to mothers living with HIV, and provided critical care and support for 6.8 million orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and their caregivers. PEPFAR also doubled the number of men, women, and children on lifesaving treatment from under 7 million to more than 14 million.

HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau Releases 2019 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Highlights Biennial Report

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HRSA HAB) released its 2019 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Highlights biennial report. The 2019 biennial report highlights five Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients who have implemented successful strategies and models of care including practice transformation, public-private partnerships, rapid entry to HIV care and delivery of antiretroviral therapy, the use of telehealth/telemedicine, and a jurisdictional approach to providing treatment and care. The reports provide an update of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program efforts to improve health outcomes for people with HIV and document the successes and challenges of recipients.

Ending the Epidemic

HRSA Hosting Technical Assistance Webinar for Rural State Funding Opportunity

Following its recent announcement of a funding opportunity that could include five of the seven rural states prioritized in the first phase of Ending the HIV Epidemic, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will be holding a technical assistance webinar on tomorrow from 2:00 – 3:00 PM (ET) for potential applicants. Call-in details are available at the link.

Harold J. Phillips Hired as Senior HIV Advisor and COO of Ending the HIV Epidemic

Harold J. Phillips was named Senior HIV Advisor and Chief Operating Officer of Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (ETHE) in the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP). In this role, Harold will oversee the coordination of ETHE activities throughout all U.S. Department of Health and Human Services operating divisions and work to ensure there is both community awareness and engagement in efforts to achieve the program’s goals of reducing HIV transmissions by 75 percent within five years and by 90 percent within 10 years. Congratulations to Harold!


NASTAD submitted public comments to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on its draft recommendations for Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Adolescents and Adults Screening, March 2020.

Job Opportunities                   

STI/HIV Branch Chief – Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is seeking a Chief for its STI/HIV Branch. The Branch Chief directs the work of Program Managers in the Branch by applying the methods of organizational management, strategic planning, project design and implementation, work planning, and public health practice, and working closely with Division leadership; developing, approving, implementing, and evaluating overall Branch and Division goals, objectives, policies, and procedures.

HIV Transitional Specialist – Washington state

The Department of Corrections’ Health Services Division in Washington State is hiring an HIV Transitional Specialist. The position supports the department’s vision of maintaining safe communities by providing support for and developing comprehensive release plans for people living with HIV. The position will also provide technical assistance to correctional health care staff upon initial screening or admission and prior to release of any patient living with HIV.

Hepatitis B Policy Fellow – Washington, DC

The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) is seeking a Hepatitis B Policy Fellow to coordinate the organization’s hepatitis B federal policy work. The fellowship is a year-long position that will continue AAPCHO’s work educating members of Congress and federal agency stakeholders of the impact of the opioid epidemic on increasing hepatitis B cases in the United States and work with external partners to increase awareness and administration of hepatitis B vaccination among adults, as well as increase hepatitis B testing.

Upcoming Conferences

NASTAD National HIV and Hepatitis Technical Assistance Meeting

The NASTAD National HIV and Hepatitis Technical Assistance Meeting “Leveraging Integrated Programs to End the Epidemics” will be held December 3-5, 2019 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. Online registration will remain open until November 1 with early bird registration open until September 30.

NASTAD’s HIV Cluster Response Workshop

NASTAD’s HIV Cluster Response Workshop, part of the Southern Capacity Building Workshop Series, will be held November 13-14, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. Registration will be open through October 15.

News Bulletin

Gilead Wins $6 Million Deal to Distribute PrEP

The Department of Health and Human Services and Gilead struck a deal last week to accelerate plans to distribute the HIV prevention pill PrEP in support of the Trump administration’s plan to end the HIV epidemic. The six-month contract awards Gilead $6 million to put Truvada into the hands of 4,250 uninsured patients, the administration estimates. In May, Gilead pledged to donate enough Truvada to cover 200,000 uninsured patients seeking HIV prevention for up to 10 years. The pills will be made available to health centers using Gilead’s existing distribution network. While the distribution begins, the administration will begin a formal process to look for a contractor to distribute Gilead’s donated pills in coming years. While Gilead is a contender for that contract, Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett Giroir has stated that there are other possible awardees.