Recently, we held a listening session with leaders of state and local HIV and viral hepatitis programs to get their ideas on priorities to be addressed as we begin work to update the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) [PDF, 2.2MB] and National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP). The health department leaders were gathered in Baltimore for the 2018 National HIV and Hepatitis Technical Assistance Meeting convened by NASTAD. This was the second of several listening sessions that are being organized to get ideas and feedback from a range of stakeholders about these national strategies, both of which are set to expire in 2020.
During the listening session on October 10th, we heard from more than a dozen health department staff working in HIV and HCV prevention, surveillance, and Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program services. Comments during the session focused on:
- The need to ensure that efforts to address the opioid crisis include activities that also address the associated infectious disease risks
- Enabling immediate access to antiretroviral treatment when a person is diagnosed with HIV
- Support for HIV and viral hepatitis surveillance and a "report card" that highlights the gaps that need to be addressed or better understood
- A desire for expanded access to HCV treatment through Medicaid and/or a Ryan White-like system
- Streamlined reporting and faster analysis of surveillance data that allows for more "real time" use of data
- Enhanced coordination across federal agencies and programs in addition to increased flexibility across funding streams for infectious diseases and immunization
- Better measurement and tracking of efforts to eliminate HCV coinfection among people living with HIV
- The importance of improving hepatitis B testing and linkage to care
- The need to make Project ECHO-style telemedicine efforts more widely available across all states that may need to extend/enhance provider capacity for treating HIV, HCV, or HBV
- The need for more support to integrate hepatitis A vaccination into services that reach adults at-risk of infection
- The importance of changing laws that require criminal prosecution of people with HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C for activities that pose no risk of transmission or are consensual
- Support for improved coordination between immunization and viral hepatitis programs to prevent/reduce perinatal transmission of hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- The need for a national HIV stigma reduction campaign
- Greater federal support of and efforts to leverage the potential of syringe services programs for engaging with people who inject drugs
- A need for additional training and capacity to develop cultural competency for the health workforce
Everyone has a role to play in our national fight against HIV and viral hepatitis. Active engagement from a range of stakeholders from all sectors, both public and private, in communities and states across the nation is vital to ensuring the NHAS and NVHAP are national strategies that can be embraced community-wide.
Next Listening Session & Additional Input Opportunities
We look forward to hearing more ideas and feedback at the 2018 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment in December. If you are attending this conference, start thinking about what you recommend for the next HIV and viral hepatitis strategies and join us for the listening session which will be held on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 from 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM in Chesapeake 10-11-12 at the conference venue. Additional opportunities for stakeholder input on the updates to both strategies will be announced in the coming weeks. Follow HIV.gov and the HHS hepatitis blog for details.