The federal government doled out more than $2 billion during fiscal 2018 to support medical and social services for people living with HIV/AIDS, officials said Thursday.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program's fiscal 2018 funding matched its totals since 2010.
"New medical advances and broader access to treatment have helped transform HIV/AIDS from a likely death sentence into a manageable chronic disease," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a released statement. "The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program is an important way to ensure that these life-saving treatments reach the Americans who need them, and the Trump administration is committed to continuing to improve the care Americans living with HIV/AIDS receive."
It is unclear whether the total announced Thursday includes the $5.7 million that HHS reportedly planned to divert from the program to help pay for housing costs associated with the Unaccompanied Alien Children program. HHS did not respond to requests for comment as of Thursday afternoon.
As in previous years, a large portion of the funding—more than $820 million—went to states for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which covers the cost of providing medications to low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS who are under-insured or uninsured.
More than $620 million was awarded to 52 cities with the largest or fastest-growing HIV populations to provide core medical and support services. Community-based organizations received $182 million to provide support through the program's early intervention services.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program was created in 1991 after years of inaction to address the AIDS crisis. Now it is the largest federal program for people living with HIV/AIDS, providing services to more than 500,000 individuals. Advocates credit the program with helping reduce the annual number of new cases of HIV, which fell 5% between 2010 and 2015, from 41,800 to 38,500 new infections.
The program's sustained funding has also been touted by many public health advocates as a possible template for the kind of effort needed to adequately address the opioid crisis. So far, lawmakers have committed more than $4 billion over the past two years toward combating the opioid crisis, with that coming via one-time funding mechanisms. But addiction medicine advocates have long estimated that it will take several billion dollars each year over the next decade to make significant progress. The epidemic led to more than 70,000 deaths in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.