In Brief is NEAETC's news service covering the latest developments and educational resources about HIV, hepatitis, health disparities, and related topics. To subscribe, please click HERE.
NASTAD Sees Key Role for Supervised Injection Facilities in Response to HIV, Hepatitis, and Opioid Epidemics
Supervised Injection Facilities (SIFs) – legally sanctioned facilities where people who use intravenous drugs can inject pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision – should be an important element in a comprehensive strategy to end the intersecting epidemics of HIV, viral hepatitis, and opioid use, according to a recent issue brief from NASTAD. “SIFs have been shown to reduce HCV/HIV transmission risks and link participants to testing, infectious disease treatment, medication-assisted treatment, and physical and behavioral health services. Studies of SIFs have shown that they do not lead to increases in drug use, frequency of injection, or levels of drug-related crime while effectively reducing overdose death and occurrence.” The two-page brief includes a series of recommendations to guide health departments, policymakers, and community-based organizations in educating and engaging stakeholder groups about the potential benefits of SIFs. These include reducing the risk of HIV and hepatitis C transmission, and linking participants to testing, infectious disease treatment, medication-assisted treatment, and physical and behavioral health services.
AIDS United Announces $2.4 million in Grants Supporting Syringe Access
On February 1, representatives for AIDS United’s Syringe Access Fund (SAF) announced that the Fund was providing a total of nearly $2.4 million in grants to 62 organizations that work to prevent HIV and viral hepatitis by providing sterile injection equipment, health education and messaging, and local and regional advocacy. “Access to sterile syringes is a proven public health tool to prevent the transmission of HIV and HCV,” said Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United. “With the opioid epidemic raging, the SAF is needed now more than ever.” Monique Tula, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, a Fund grantee, noted that, “It's been a long hard push, combatting misconceptions and moral objections to services for people who use drugs, but we have seen some promising policy movement across the country.” She added, “As we continue our work, promoting sound, evidence-based strategies for protecting the health of people who inject drugs, we are thrilled to have the support of the Fund.” For a full list of grant recipients, see AIDS United’s SAF Grantees page.
Program Highlight: PEPFAR
NEJM Article Spotlights 15-Year Achievements of PEPFAR
Launched in 2003, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has achieved remarkable success in providing HIV services in parts of the world hardest hit by the pandemic, according to a recent perspectives article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers Anthony Fauci and Robert Eisinger of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases note that, by September 2017, PEPFAR-funded programs had:
• provided 13.3 million HIV-infected men, women, and children with antiretroviral therapy;
• supported 15.2 million voluntary medical male circumcisions in eastern and southern African countries to reduce the risk of HIV transmission;
• averted nearly 2.2 million perinatal HIV infections; and
• provided care for more than 6.4 million orphans and vulnerable children.
“Over the past 15 years, PEPFAR has demonstrated the transforming results that can be realized by strong government leadership in the global health arena. It is entirely possible to bring the HIV/AIDS pandemic to an end, and PEPFAR will undoubtedly play an essential role in this endeavor,” according to Fauci and Eisinger. “However, it is vital that support for this transformative program continue both to meet the immediate challenge of HIV/AIDS and to serve as the model for the control and elimination of other globally devastating infectious diseases.”
NASHP Toolkit Focuses on Strategies to Improve HIV Health Outcomes
The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) has developed a toolkit – State Strategies to Improve Health Outcomes for People Living with HIV. This new resource offers state officials guidance on sharing and using data, collaborating with stakeholders, and making policy and program changes to improve the overall health of people living with HIV. Last year, NASHP worked with 19 states to help them identify and implement policy and program changes to improve viral suppression rates among Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries living with HIV. Through this work, NASHP determined that state officials needed additional resources on a range of topics, such as data sharing and quality improvement. The state strategies toolkit, which was supported through a cooperative agreement between NASHP and the Health Resources and Services Administration, is one response to this need. It currently includes more than 30 issue briefs, webinars, and presentations. NASHP plans to add new items to the toolkit on a regular basis, “providing state officials with up-to-date information and timely policy resources.”
Free Continued Education Activity on Delayed HIV Diagnosis
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Medscape recently announced a new free continuing education activity: Vital Signs: Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing and Diagnosis Delays – United States. (Note: Registration is required to access this activity.) According to CDC, after completing this learning activity, clinicians will be able to:
• describe diagnosis delay among persons infected with HIV, based on an analysis of data from the CDC’s National HIV Surveillance System, and missed opportunities for HIV testing, based on CDC’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance;
• identify the proportions of persons in various high-risk populations who tested for HIV in the past 12 months; and
• determine the clinical and public health implications of these findings regarding HIV testing, missed opportunities for testing, and diagnosis delay among persons infected with HIV.
New Pediatric HIV Surveillance Slides from CDC
CDC has recently uploaded a new HIV surveillance slide set that contains 14 slides with charts, maps, and timelines summarizing HIV infection among children under 13 years old in the U.S., as well as perinatal HIV infection. The slides include information about: pediatric HIV diagnoses, with breakdowns by age and race/ethnicity; trends in perinatal infection from 1985 to 2015; and the number of persons living with perinatally acquired HIV infection, with breakdowns by state.