HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau Coronavirus Disease 2019 Update

From HIV.gov

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HRSA HAB) appreciates everything our Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients, subrecipients, and stakeholders are doing to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, particularly among people with HIV and the nation’s most vulnerable populations.

Latest News

We continually update our Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) webpage. We recently added or updated questions on:

  • Utilizing emergency financial assistance funding for grocery delivery and cell phone purchases
  • HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau site visit schedule
  • Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Notice of Funding Opportunity deadline extensions

Status of Funding for Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Recipients

On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” or the “CARES Act,” authorizing $90 million for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program response to COVID-19. HRSA is working to determine an expedient process to release funds to recipients when available.

3/26 HRSA HAB All Grant Recipient Call Replay Available

On March 26, HRSA HAB hosted an All Grant Recipient Conference Call on the topic, “Updates for HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) Recipients on Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).” An audio replay of the call is available through April 25, 2020. To access the replay:

Dial: 888-568-0744

A downloadable MP3 file on the call will be available on the COVID-19 webpage in the coming days.

COVID-19 Additional Resources

Study Shows Newer Anti-HIV Drugs Safest, Most Effective During Pregnancy

decorative imageResearchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that the antiretroviral drugs, dolutegravir and emtricitabine/ tenofovir alafenamide fumurate (DTG+FTC/TAF), may comprise the safest and most effective HIV treatment regimen currently available during pregnancy.
The findings come from a multinational study of more than 640 pregnant women with HIV across 4 continents.
Previous research has demonstrated that antiretroviral therapy (ART) to suppress HIV prevents perinatal transmission of the virus and benefits the health of both mother and child. In the current study, 3 ART regimens were compared, showing that the regimens containing DTG were more effective in suppressing HIV than a commonly used regimen containing efavirenz (EFV).

Challenging HIV Stigma

From Sean Strub,  POZ Magazine’s founder…

Biomedical advances against HIV since the dawn of the epidemic have been nothing short of astonishing. An almost always fatal disease is now, for those with the privilege of access to treatment, a manageable chronic illness, treated with a single daily pill. A person who acquires HIV today has every reason to expect to live a normal life span.

Sean Strub
POZ Magazine’s founder, Sean Strub

Yet with such astonishing success in treatment, why is HIV stigma worse today than ever before? Why do so many long-term survivors, including many who were exceptionally open about their HIV-positive status for years, find they must now keep it a secret, sometimes going deeply into closets they thought they had left for good years ago?

Many people—especially those who do not have HIV—find these questions startling. That’s because they remember the days when one had to wear a spacesuit to visit a person with AIDS in a hospital or was afraid to eat in a restaurant with gay waiters or refused to touch a person they thought might have the virus.

Read the full article.

HHS Collaborates with National Pharmacies to Expand PrEP Access

From HIV.gov

Beginning April 1, 2020, patients enrolled in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Ready, Set, PrEP program will fill their prescription for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication at no cost at their choice of Avita Pharmacy , CVS Health , Health Mart , Longs Pharmacy Solutions , Rite Aid , and Walgreens  locations or through mail.

ready set PrEP logoReady, Set, PrEP is a nationwide program led by HHS and an essential component of the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative. Ready, Set, PrEP provides PrEP medications to individuals who qualify, increasing access to PrEP medications, reducing new HIV infections, and bringing us one step closer to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.

Recognizing the importance of expanded access to HIV PrEP medications, these pharmacies are donating their dispensing and mailing services at over 24,500 pharmacy locations nationwide. This represents about a third of all the pharmacies in the United States, with locations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The donation provides a valuable service to those using PrEP and results in substantial cost savings to the federal government.

Read the full article.

FAQs about HIV and COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HIV and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The new resource addresses concerns related to COVID-19 and HIV and highlights how people with HIV can protect their health.

COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that can spread from person to person. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While most people have mild symptoms, some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. People at higher risk include older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

In the United States, nearly half of people with diagnosed HIV are aged 50 and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of chronic heart and lung disease. Like other respiratory infections among people with HIV, the risk of getting very sick is greatest in people with a low CD4 cell count and people not on HIV treatment. Encouraging people with HIV to stay on treatment and take preventative actions will play an essential role in protecting the health and well-being of those who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

People who are taking medicine to treat (ART) or prevent (PrEP) HIV should stick to their treatment plan, continue taking their medicine consistently, and follow the advice of their health care provider. Some types of HIV medications are being evaluated in clinical trials to treat COVID-19, but there are no data available yet showing that these drugs treat COVID-19. People who develop symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 should talk to their health care provider about how to get evaluated. Please visit the COVID-19 website to learn more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Furthermore, some of CDC’s recommendations to help people with HIV protect themselves from COVID-19 include:

  • Having at least a 30-day supply of HIV medicine available.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practicing good hand washing.
  • Avoiding large crowds and gatherings.
  • Avoiding non-essential travel.
  • Following recommendations made by local public health officials.
  • Establishing a clinical care plan to communicate with health care providers online or by phone.

We encourage you to review the FAQs and share these resources with your colleagues, friends, and family.

While we remain committed to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States, the response to COVID-19 has been a top priority for many people across the world. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to supporting this vital response. Together, we can make sure our families, friends, and communities have the information and resources they need to stay healthy and protect themselves from COVID-19.

Eugene McCray, MD
Director
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/hiv

Canada Is the First to Approve Long-Acting HIV Regimen Cabenuva

HIV treatment has entered an exciting new era as Canada has become the first nation in the world to approve ViiV Healthcare’s monthly long-acting injectable antiretroviral (ARV) regimen Cabenuva (cabotegravir/rilpivirine)—the first complete regimen for treating the virus that does not require daily pills.

In late December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held up approval of the regimen, citing concerns over its manufacturing process. In turn, ViiV indicated it was working closely with the FDA to address those concerns and ultimately bring Cabenuva to market in the United States.

ViiV first applied for FDA approval of Cabenuva in April 2019.

Read the full article.

PrEPing for Sisters

From HIV.net

Women are missing from PrEP messaging

decorative imageWhen most respondents in a population don’t know about a particular medication, that means that the word is not getting out. Although efforts may have gotten better since 2013, the reality is that most women still are not considered in the marketing of PrEP especially among people that have some high-risk activities within their lifestyle.

The parallels of this lack of knowledge continue a legacy of female bias when it comes to sexual health topics. The female condom is one example of a tool that was meant to empower women to protect themselves. However, the commitment by the health community to engrain it in our cultural sexual education failed and it is always seen as an option that men and women don’t fully embrace.

Find out more on HIVnet.com.

 

Suboptimal Rates of HIV Testing Among Adolescents in Pediatric Clinics

From Infectiousdiseaseadvisor.com

Communication between pediatricians and adolescent boys who engage in same-sex sexual intercourse may be a potential avenue to increase HIV testing in this population, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

young man being examined by a doctorAlthough it is estimated that 14.5% of HIV infections are undiagnosed in the United States, this estimation is 51.4% (>3.5-times higher) in individuals aged 13 to 24 years because of poor testing rates among those who are aged <18 years.

There have been few studies that have described HIV testing rates among minors; these data are needed to reveal opportunities for pediatrician-adolescent communication about HIV and sexual orientation, which could increase the odds of testing. This study described HIV testing rates and identified salient individual, family, school, and healthcare influences among adolescent boys who engage in same-sex sexual intercourse (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03511131).\

Read the full article.

A more convenient, monthly treatment for HIV cleared a key hurdle

From Science News

There is no cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But combination antiretroviral therapy, or ART, can effectively halt the replication of the virus, nearly eliminating it from the bloodstream and prolonging life expectancy. For the therapy to work, though, people must stick to a daily regimen of two or more pills, which experts say can be a challenge for many.

HIV virus cell under a microscope

Now, the results of two phase III clinical trials suggest that a monthly shot of antiretroviral drugs works just as well as daily pills, researchers report March 4 in two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine. If approved by regulators, the therapy could be a more convenient treatment for the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States.

“From a patient perspective, these results are very positive,” says Elizabeth Tolley, an epidemiologist at FHI 360, a public health nonprofit based in Durham, N.C. Stigma can make people reluctant to keep HIV drugs around the house or to take them each day in front of a loved one, she says. A monthly alternative could be a better option for many.

Read the full article.

Poll: U.S. Adults Lack STI Awareness

From US News and World Report

Despite cases of several sexually transmitted infections reaching a record level in the U.S., a large majority of people aren’t aware of how common they are among the nation’s adults, according to newly released survey results.

decorative image

The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 36% of those surveyed were aware that STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, syphilis and human papillomavirus, or HPV, have become more common in recent years, with 38% responding that they “don’t know enough to say.” An even smaller share – 13% – knew that more than half of people in the U.S. will get an STI sometime during their life.

Those results came even as the poll also found that a slight majority (54%) of those surveyed said they personally knew someone – themselves included – who had ever contracted an STI such as gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis. Larger shares of women and younger adults said they personally knew someone who has had an STI, according to a KFF report on the survey.

Read the full article. Avoiding an STD may be as simple as using a condom. Find out more from the CDC.