Project Inform Applauds California Lawmakers for Supporting Hepatitis C and HIV Services in the 2015-16 State Budget

June 25, 2015, San Francisco, CA – Project Inform, the managing member of the California Hepatitis Alliance and a member of the California HIV Alliance, applauds the California Legislature and Governor Brown’s support for hepatitis C and HIV services in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 budget.

The new state budget, signed into law on June 24th, provides:

  • $2.2 million dollars annually for three-years ($6.6 million total) for the state Department of Public Health to issue competitive grants for demonstration projects aimed at hepatitis C prevention. These projects will include innovative outreach, screening, and linkage to and retention in care efforts for low‑income individuals with hepatitis C;
  • $3 million dollars annually for the state Department of Public Health to purchase supplies for syringe exchange and disposal programs to support the prevention of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV; and
  • $2 million dollars annually for the state Department of Public Health to establish HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) outreach and education pilot programs intended to reduce new HIV infections for uninsured and underinsured individuals who are at high-risk for acquiring HIV.

Details about these budget items can be found on page 31 of the Budget Summary at http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf.

Project Inform wishes to express special thanks to Senator Mark Leno for his strong support of the hepatitis C and HIV-related budget items.

In addition to these general fund allocations, funds were identified to expand the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) to serve individuals with incomes up to 500% of the federal poverty level, or $58,350 annually in 2015, and to ensure that children are considered as part of the household when determining eligibility. Additionally, $3 million will be directed toward the management, support, and expansion of the enrollment worker system, which serves ADAP and the Office of AIDS Health Insurance Premium Payment program. The enrollment worker system is the interface between clients and these lifesaving programs and has been seriously strained by a dramatically increased caseload and the complexity of new health care reform systems.

“Since devastating budget cuts in 2009, which eliminated most state funds to support HIV services, the state has shown little commitment to supporting public health. In this budget, the Legislature and the Governor have shown an important commitment to reinvestment in public health. We are also pleased that the Governor has made a serious investment in PrEP, one of the key tools that will help end the California HIV epidemic,” stated Anne Donnelly, Director of Health Care Policy for Project Inform.

The Department of Public Health also identified existing funds to support the one-time purchase of rapid hepatitis C and HIV test kits for use in community-based testing programs and the one-time purchase of additional supplies for syringe exchange and disposal programs.

“The general fund support for hepatitis C prevention and linkage to care services, as well as the use of one-time funds to purchase hepatitis C test kits, are unprecedented investments in addressing hepatitis C in California,” stated Emalie Huriaux, Director of Federal & State Affairs for Project Inform and Chair of the California Hepatitis Alliance. “An estimated 750,000 Californians are living with the hepatitis C and at least half are unaware of their status. The time is now to prevent new infections, identify those Californians living with the virus who do not know it, and ensure that those living with hepatitis C are linked to appropriate medical care.”

Project Inform also applauds the Governor and the Legislature for supporting the expansion of Medi-Cal to serve all California children regardless of immigration status. This is an historic step forward for the health of all Californians.

 

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Founded 30 years ago, Project Inform believes it is possible to create the first generation free of HIV and hepatitis C within the next decade. To achieve this dream, Project Inform focuses our work in four areas: drug development, bio-medical prevention, education, and health care access. Project Inform encourages the development of better treatments and cures for both HIV and hepatitis C; advocates for innovative, medically-based prevention strategies; provides up-to-date, lifesaving information to help people living with HIV and hepatitis C make the best choices regarding their treatment and care; and presses governments to set policies and assure unlimited access to affordable health care that will one day end the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics. For more information about Project Inform, visit www.projectinform.org.

Founded in 2006, the California Hepatitis Alliance (CalHEP), a program of Project Inform, is an alliance of more than 100 organizations dedicated to reducing the scope and consequences of the hepatitis B and C epidemics, which disproportionately affect California’s ethnic communities and the socioeconomically underserved. CalHEP includes among its membership public health organizations, community-based organizations, clinics and health care agencies, county hepatitis task forces, and others committed to viral hepatitis prevention, care, advocacy, and education. Committed to culturally competent public education and awareness, CalHEP’s work focuses on advocating for sound policies; promoting evidence-based education; and broadening access to services.  For more information about CalHEP, visit www.calhep.org.