Politics One step closer to ending the HIV epidemic for some, not all
Biden picks former West Virginia health official as drug czar
Rahul Gupta, who gained national recognition for his anti-opioid efforts, will oversee President Joe Biden's response to a worsening drug crisis.Gupta, if confirmed by the Senate, will take on the drug czar post amid record levels of deadly drug overdoses, spurred by surging use of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl and methamphetamine. The social isolation and economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic have exacerbated the problem, public health officials say.
In an important step forward to address long-standing issues of health equity, the Biden administration issuedto group health plans and health insurance companies regarding coverage of pre-exposure prophylaxis, better known as PrEP. Specifically, plans and insurers must now cover the cost of the PrEP medications as well as the laboratory services and office visits necessary for proper medical management.
This policy is worth celebrating, as it will significantly improve access to often costly lifesaving HIV prevention treatment and care, but we must also acknowledge that we, collectively, have more work to do to reach the marginalized patients who are uninsured or confront foundational barriers to care.
Judge scraps order halting West Virginia needle exchange law
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal judge has scrapped a temporary restraining order on West Virginia’s new law that tightens requirements on needle exchange programs. U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers made the decision Thursday, a week after saying he would consider the argument by plaintiffs that the law is unconstitutional, The Herald-Dispatch reported. Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill in April over the objections of critics who said it will restrict access to clean needles amid a spike in HIV cases. The American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter filed the federal lawsuit last month, and Chambers had issued the restraining order June 28.
At the outset, we must extend thanks and deep appreciation to the Biden administration for moving the needle forward on the fight to end HIV by beginning to address one of the most significant barriers to care: affordability. Since May 2020, there have been significant strides in increasing the availability of more affordable generic forms of PrEP that are the equivalent of Truvada.
However, some people are better served by utilizing a regimen of Descovy, another form of PrEP. Costs for Descovy are estimated to be around. By addressing the prohibitive cost barriers to PrEP medications, we are strengthening the response to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States, while also encouraging more PrEP users among communities with higher HIV incidence.
Haiti acting prime minister says he will step down, ending power struggle
Haiti's acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Washington Post in an interview on Monday that he has agreed to step down from his post and hand authority to Ariel Henry, who was tapped to be prime minister by President Jovenel Moïse days before his assassination.Joseph's agreement to step down ends a power showdown over who would lead the country.Joseph, who was serving as Moïse's foreign minister, reportedly claimed that he was the rightful interim leader following the death of the country's chief because Henry had not yet been sworn into his role.
HIV disproportionately impacts those who live at the intersections of multiple marginalized communities, especially LGBTQ communities of color. Currently, one in every two Black gay and bisexual cisgender men and one in four Latinx gay and bisexual men will bewith HIV in their lifetime. The prevalence of HIV is also profoundly felt in the transgender community, with almost of all Black transgender women and an of Latinx transgender women living with HIV.
Although this expansion to cover the associated services needed to accompany PrEP is certainly worthy of praise, we must also acknowledge that there are members of our community whose lives will continue to be upended by today's drug pricing policies, stigma, transphobia and homophobia. We need further investment by leaders at all levels to address barriers ultimately fueled by systemic inequity.
EXPLAINER: $26B opioid settlement big step, but not the end
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A $26 billion settlement between the three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and thousands of states and municipalities that sued over the toll of the opioid crisis is certainly significant — but it is far from tying a neat bow on the tangle of still unresolved lawsuits surrounding the epidemic. Besides the monthslong process of state and local governments deciding whether to sign onto the settlement, there are three current cases in the U.S., others set to begin soon and the bankruptcy of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to resolve.
Health equity cannot be achieved until we address the systemic challenges within the health care system that exacerbate the rates of HIV incidence among marginalized communities and fuel inadequate access to health services. Part of this necessitates ensuring everyone who is eligible for PrEP has access, not simply those who are insured.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken steps to provide access to free PrEP medications to uninsured individuals through itsprogram. To date, however, this well-intentioned program has been underutilized by the vulnerable population it was designed to serve.
Ultimately, the long-term success of HIV prevention efforts will require a more comprehensive approach for communities hardest hit in the deep South, which accounts forof new HIV cases annually and nearly half of all Americans One option, which Congress can advance now, is to provide Medicaid-level coverage to the more than 2 million uninsured adults who lack health care because their states chose not to expand this critical safety-net program. Addressing the gap in Medicaid coverage would not only help expand access to HIV prevention but help reduce racial health disparities.
Ending the HIV epidemic is within our grasp, but in order to achieve a future free of HIV, we must continue to center those who have been at the forefront of the crisis. We must urge government leaders to make HIV a public health priority, to invest in and strengthen public health programs, provide more funding for state and local health departments and community-based organizations, and make PrEP free and accessible to all, not just for some.
Alphonso David is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. LGBTQ civil rights organization, he is the first civil rights lawyer and person of color to serve as its president.
COVID-19. Why the fourth wave in France is completely different from the first three .
© Bertrand Guay / AFP The critical care unit of André Grégoire hospital in Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, April 1, 2021. (Photo Illustration) Since early July, the fourth wave of Covid-19 spreads clearly in France. But the outbreak of contamination seems less influenced the curve of hospitalizations, unlike previous epidemic episodes in the hex. Support charts, you are explained this decorrelation. An unprecedented situation.