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Senators ask leadership to include HIV/AIDS funding in next COVID package

Out U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is leading the call for Senate leadership to include federal funding for HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and housing programs in the next COVID-19 pandemic response package to help continue providing services to people living with and at risk for HIV and AIDS.

Baldwin and her colleagues sent a letter urging Congressional leadership to include funding for the following programs in the next COVID-19 package:

• $500 million for HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding providers and community-based organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, including telehealth services, case management services, medications (prescription and over-the-counter), behavioral health services and access to basic necessities, such as food and shelter. Additional funding will also help people living with HIV and AIDS maintain access to care and treatment, meet new needs of people without health insurance; keep clinics open and providers employed, and prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19.

• $100 million for CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention to support core HIV prevention activities, personnel to respond to COVID-19, HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) initiations and telehealth services at state and local health departments and community-based organizations.

$65 million for HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program to support housing and rental assistance for people living with AIDS to promote the safety of clients, families, and the community.

• $58 million for CDC’s Infectious Disease and Opioid program and ending the ban on federal funding for syringe service programs. 

In the letter — addressed  to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelbyand Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy — Baldwin and her colleagues wrote: “This additional support for HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and housing programs is critical for ensuring that we can respond to two different pandemics that have impacted millions of Americans. Thank you for your leadership in our nation’s response to COVID-19 as well as your long-standing support of people living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS.”

National stakeholders are supporting the senators’ letter include the HIV Medicine Association, AIDS Budget and Appropriations Coalition, National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), and The AIDS Institute.

Senators signing today’s letter include  Chris Van Hollen, Ron Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin, Chris Coons, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker, Kamala D. Harris, Bob Menendez, Edward Markey, Jacky Rosen, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Tina Smith, Tom Carper, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

— Tammye Nash

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