By Trenton Staube | HEP Magazine | June 1, 2021

On May 28, President Joe Biden unveiled his $6 trillion budget for fiscal year 2022. It commits $670 million to battling HIV/AIDS domestically, a $267 million increase from the previous year. Federal HIV funding will go to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the initiative titled “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.”

The budget increases funding for Ryan White HIV/AIDS Programs by $46 million and requests $450 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with HIV/AIDS (HOPWA). That’s a $20 million increase but $150 million less than the amount requested, according to press releases from The AIDS Institute and the HIV+Hep Policy Institute.

You can download a 72-page PDF of the budget. The “Defeating Other Diseases and Epidemics” section of the budget reads in part:

Commits to Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic. To help accelerate and strengthen efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, the Budget includes $670 million within HHS to help aggressively reduce new HIV cases while increasing access to treatment, expanding the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, and ensuring equitable access to services and supports.

Makes a Major Investment to Help End the Opioid Epidemic. The opioid epidemic has shattered families, claimed lives, and ravaged communities across the nation—and the COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened this crisis. That is why the Budget includes a historic investment of $10.7 billion in discretionary funding in HHS, an increase of $3.9 billion over the 2021 enacted level, to support research, prevention, treatment and recovery support services, with targeted investments to support populations with unique needs, including Native Americans, older Americans, and rural populations. The Budget also includes $621 million specific to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) Opioid Prevention and Treatment programs, including programs in support of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act.

That section of the budget also addresses gun violence (a $2.1 billion investment) and includes the launch of a federal research arm that would focus on health-related breakthroughs in areas such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. The budget sets aside $6.5 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, which Biden discussed in April during his first address to both chambers of Congress. For more, see “President Biden Proposes New Agency for Medical Breakthroughs.”

Regarding funding for hepatitis, the budget includes $19.5 million for the Infectious Diseases and Opioids Epidemic Program and only $39.5 million for the Department of Viral Hepatitis, according to the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable. Daniel Raymond, the group’s director of policy, released the following statement:

“Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that viral hepatitis cases are increasing, and action is needed now to address the growing crisis. It is disappointing that the Biden administration has failed to appropriately increase funding for the Division of Viral Hepatitis. The modest increase in funding for the Infectious Diseases and Opioid Epidemic Program is a positive advancement, but it is not enough to offset years of underfunding for viral hepatitis amid a worsening epidemic. By failing to provide adequate funding to combat viral hepatitis, patients will continue facing harmful barriers to care, and efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis will continue lagging behind global goals.

“We urge Congress to fully fund the Division of Viral Hepatitis by allocating at least $134 million to improve viral hepatitis testing and treatment, and to strengthen the public health infrastructure. In addition, we urge the full funding of $120 million for the Infectious Diseases and Opioid Epidemic Program to fully prevent and respond to opioid-related infectious disease outbreaks, including hepatitis C.”

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