Joe Biden calls for $270 million HIV funding boost to end AIDS epidemic

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden has called for an almost $270 million increase in funding for HIV testing, prevention and treatment programmes to help combat the epidemic in the US.

The Executive Office of Management and Budget (OMB) submitted the president’s initial budget request for 2022 discretionary funding on Friday (9 April). In the request, the OMB said the president is seeking an additional $267 million in funding on top of what the Trump administration allotted to HIV and AIDS prevention in the US.

The Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative, which was started in 2019 under the Trump administration, aims to reduce the number of HIV infections in the US by at least 90 per cent by 2030. The initiative’s website estimated that more than 700,000 Americans with HIV have died since 1981 and more than 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV.

In the new budget request, the EHE programme will have a budget of $670 million instead of the $403 million it has been allotted since the initiative’s inception.

Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, welcomed the proposed increase in funding for the EHE initiative. But he said in a statement to the Washington Blade that the funding falls short of the amount advocates were seeking to fight the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

“While it falls short of what the community has requested, if this funding is released it will continue the momentum already created and make further progress in ending HIV in the US,” Schmid said. “Efforts to end HIV will help eradicate an infectious disease that we have been battling for the last 40 years and help correct racial and health inequities in our nation.”

The memo outlining the proposal shared the White House’s commitment to “ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic”. It said the increase in funding would be used to “help accelerate and strengthen efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States”. The funding would help the EHE initiative – which is under the oversight of the Health and Human Services Department – “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”.

The OMB note also called for additional funding to go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the National Institute for Health (NIH) for initiatives that “aim to reduce new HIV cases aggressively”.