Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir March 23, 2020

Hill Happenings

Senate Passes Bill to Combat COVID-19 Pandemic

The Senate passed a second relief bill to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The relief bill is aimed at providing emergency relief to Americans who may be impacted by the measures issued by states and localities to contain the spread of COVID-19. The relief package includes about $1 trillion dollars in funding and includes free testing for coronavirus and requires smaller employers to guarantee at least two weeks of paid sick leave. President Trump signed the bill into law Wednesday, March 18. Senate Republicans introduced a third relief package, Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, that includes direct cash payments to Americans. Congressional leadership are expected to continue negations for several days on a final package. NASTAD signed onto letters in support of long-term public health infrastructure funding in the next iteration of a COVID supplemental package. We will send out further information as it becomes available.

Lawmakers Urge Trump Administration to Protect Those with HIV Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

On Thursday, March 19th, eleven Democratic Senators called on the Trump Administration to make special considerations on how the coronavirus pandemic will impact people living with HIV. In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, senators called on the Administration “to take affirmative action to ensure people in the United States, including people living with HIV, can safely access COVID-19 testing, treatments, and support services.”

Administration Activities

FY2020 & FY2021 Funding Increase for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The White House has requested an additional $3.415 billion for FY2020 funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These funds are intended to support lab capacity at the state, local, and CDC level to assist with the COVID-19 response and preparedness efforts, as well as for the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund. The White House also adjusted their original FY2021 request amount by $1.3 billion. This request brings the total FY2021 request to $8.3 billion. The additional funding request for FY2021 is intended for several CDC priority programs.

Ending the Epidemic

NOFO Deadline Extended

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC has delayed the application deadline for PS20-2009: Integrated Viral Hepatitis Surveillance and Prevention Funding for Health Departments. The deadline will now be on Monday, May 18th, 2020 at 11:59PM. The purpose of this NOFO is to implement integrated viral hepatitis surveillance and prevention programs in states and large cities. Key strategies include viral hepatitis outbreak planning and response; and surveillance for acute hepatitis A, B, and C, and chronic hepatitis C. On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, NASTAD issued a letter to CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis requesting an extension of the PS20-2009 application deadline or identification of an alternative means for delivery of the awards under this funding opportunity. CDC has taken the request under consideration and a response is pending.

Resources

NASTAD COVID-19 Resources & Updates Page

NASTAD is closely monitoring the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Please review our Updates and Resources page to address any questions you may have. We understand that these are uncertain times that may be concerning for many. For questions regarding COVID-19 and people living with HIV, please refer to the CDC’s guidance on HIV and the coronavirus.

HIV/AIDS Bureau Launches COVID-19 FAQ Page

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) has launched a frequently asked questions page to keep Ryan White recipients, subrecipients, and partners updated on the latest information regarding COVID-19. As part of that effort, HAB has launched a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) webpage, which HAB is monitoring and updating as new information is made available.

amfAR Analysis: 10 Years of the Affordable Care Act

amfAR has released an analysis of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and details the gains the HIV community has made under the ACA in the last ten years, in addition to where we are lagging behind.

HHS Guidance for PLWH & COVID-19

HHS released Interim Guidance for COVID-19 and Persons with HIV. The guidance, which was developed collectively by the HHS Antiretroviral and Opportunistic Infections Guidelines Panels, working groups of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council, is intended for health care providers and persons living with HIV in the United States. The HIV Healthcare Access and Ryan White Work Groups submitted a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, asking him to issue special guidance for people living with HIV (PLWH) for the COVID-19 pandemic.

National AIDS Housing Coalition Issues Sign-On Letter to Congressional Appropriators

The National AIDS Housing Coalition and other partners issued a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development requesting a one-time additional $100 million for the HOPWA program to assist in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 among those who may be unstably housed and immunocompromised.

HIVMA/IDSA COVID-19 Resources

The Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), in collaboration with the HIV Medical Association (HIVMA) has published two resources on the COVID-19 pandemic. IDSA’s COVID-19 resource center includes information on testing resources and guidelines on containing the spread of coronavirus. HIVMA/IDSA also released a list of special considerations for people living with HIV and the COVID-19 pandemic. This list contains guidance for patients on how to practice social distancing, make appointments with their doctors, prescription drug refills, and many other key topics.

Upcoming Conferences

Cancellation of NASTAD 2020 Annual Meeting

It is with a heavy heart that NASTAD has decided to cancel the physical convening of the 2020 Annual Meeting scheduled for May. Amidst the growing threat of the spread of COVID-19, it has become unadvisable to have such a large assembly of people, in accordance with social distance guidelines and travel concerns from our members. NASTAD staff are working towards developing a limited version of the Annual Meeting to be hosted virtually during the week of May 18th.

Hep B United’s 2020 Summit

Hep B United’s 2020 Summit, at this time, will still be held on July 16-17, 2020 in Atlanta, GA at the CDC Global Communications Center. Information regarding how to register for the conference will be forthcoming over the next few months.

Job Opportunities

Manager, Policy and Legislative Affairs – Washington, DC

NASTAD is seeking a Manager of Policy and Legislative Affairs to assist in managing the development and implementation of hepatitis-related federal appropriations strategies, including for the NASTAD-convened Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership, and legislation related to hepatitis prevention, care and treatment issues. The Manager will also interface with governmental agencies, national organizations, coalitions and other non-governmental organizations to promote NASTAD’s legislative and policy agenda.

Manager, Policy and Health Systems – Washington, DC

The National Coalition of STD Directors is seeking a Manager of Policy and Health Systems to lead its state policy program and support service delivery and program integration efforts. The position will work collaboratively to implement the organization’s policy and service delivery agenda on both the state and federal levels. This will include providing policy guidance and training to NCSD members through individualized technical assistance and NCSD’s Policy Academy and supporting the NCSD Public Policy Committee and National STI Coalition.

Policy Associate – Remote

Positive Women’s Network-USA is seeking a policy associate who understands the HIV epidemic and the domestic policy response as a symptom of broad-scale inequity and multiple injustices--specifically the criminalization of marginalized populations. The position will support the organization’s national and state-level policy activities with a focus on robust, community-led efforts to decriminalize HIV and sex work and on advancing meaningful partnerships and collaborations with other intersecting movements that address surveillance, policing, and mass incarceration, especially as they impact Black, Latinx, and trans communities. The deadline for this position is rolling until the position is filled.

Program Director – New York

Whitney M. Young Jr Health Center, located in NY’s Capital District, is a regionally focused FQHC that provides outreach, screening and treatment to patients with, and at-risk for, HIV/AIDS, STIs and Hepatitis C. The health center is looking to hire a Program Director of Community Prevention & Treatment Services who would oversee multiple federal and State-funded initiatives. The position offers not only the chance to lead program services, but also influence policy through advocacy and interaction with the NYS Department of Health, AIDS Institute.

Program Specialists IV – Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is seeing applicants for two Program Specialist IV positions. The positions will be responsible for ensuring that organizations who enter into written agreements with DSHS to provide HIV, STD, and hepatitis C (HCV) programs deliver services that are consistent with the needs of the population to be served and are in accordance with State and Federal mandates and program requirements. The positions will also administer and oversee HIV/STD/HCV prevention activities (which may include focused or routine testing, linkage to HIV-related medical care, structural interventions, nPEP/PrEP, and varied evidence-based interventions) and plans and direct the development, implementation, and evaluation of HIV/STD/HCV programs.

News Bulletin

The “London Patient” Remains HIV-Free a Year after Stem Cell Treatment

“Adam Castillejo, previously known as the “London Patient”, has gone public with his identity after becoming the second person in the world to be cured of HIV. Adam Castillejo stopped anti-retroviral therapy 30 months ago after he underwent a stem cell treatment for a cancer he had. The donor cells he received had rare mutated copies of the CCR5 receptor, which prevents HIV-1 from binding to cells. Tests indicate that 99% of Castillejo’s cells have been replaced by donor cells. Researchers say that “time will tell” if Castillejo will remain HIV free permanently.”

Coronavirus: Three Lessons from the AIDS Epidemic

“Associate Professor of History at the University of Washington, Laurie Marhoefer, discusses lessons learned from the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis that will assist the nation in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.”