Maximizing Health, Minimizing Harm: The Role of Public Health Programs in Drug User Health

By Mariah Johnson, Manager Viral Hepatitis/Policy & Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

Maximizing Health, Minimizing Harm: Drug User Health ToolkitIn February 2015, reports surfaced of an outbreak of new HIV cases in Scott County, Indiana. The initial 26 cases of HIV, first confirmed in December, were followed by more cases (now nearly 90 cases with the majority involving hepatitis C [HCV] co-infection). The cause was the injection of the prescription painkiller Opana. In an effort to combat the outbreak – the largest in the state’s history – Indiana Governor Mike Pence authorized an emergency 30 day needle exchange program in Scott County, administered by state health officials, which opened earlier this week. This was a major development from a Governor who has not supported this intervention in a state where needle exchange programs have long been outlawed. Yet in the face of an historic HIV (and HCV) outbreak, Governor Pence recognized the need for a public health approach guided by the evidence, just as numerous physicians, health departments, and countless community-based and national organizations have before him. Continue reading

Celebrating 10 Years of Public Health System Strengthening in Zambia

By Lucy Slater, Director, Global Program

Like all organizations, NASTAD Global goes through cycles – cycles of staffing, cycles of scopes of work, and cycles of funding. In 2015, we approach a convergence of these cycles, and as some new opportunities are emerging, we are also finding that some existing work must end. As of March 31, 2015, the outcomes of NASTAD Global’s HIV health systems strengthening assistance for national government partners in Zambia will have been integrated into government structures and we will close the doors to our Zambia office.

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Increasing Access to Treatment for HIV and Hepatitis via Patient Assistance Programs and Cost-Sharing Assistance Programs

By Amanda Bowes, Associate, Health Care Access and Viral Hepatitis, NASTAD

Patient Assistance ProgramsThe treatment landscape for both HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) is evolving in exciting and dramatic ways. This excitement is often curbed, however, by high priced drugs and/or restrictive insurance practices that impacted populations face in accessing health care services.  Continue reading

How Meaningful Community Engagement Can Help End HIV

By Maria Courogen, Director, Office of Infectious Disease, Washington State Department of Health

Maria Courogen, Washington State Department of Health

Maria Courogen, Washington State Department of Health

As I began my tenure as NASTAD’s chair in May 2014, I was reminded of the great work that my immediate predecessors, Dawn Fukuda—Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health—and Randy Mayer—Chief of the Bureau of HIV, STD and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health—led during their time at the helm. It was a privilege to serve as an officer during both of their terms, as Randy created conversation regarding HIV criminalization and Dawn discussed the transformative power of the Affordable Care Act in the fight against HIV. The themes and work that resulted have pushed us further toward our shared mission of raising the bars as we strive to reach the goals laid out by the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy across all of our jurisdictions, for all populations. Continue reading

ADAP Crisis Task Force Announces Groundbreaking Agreement with AbbVie for Hepatitis C Treatment Viekira Pak™

ADAP Crisis Task Force Announces Groundbreaking Agreement with AbbVie for Hepatitis C Treatment Viekira Pak 

Contact:  Britten Pund

AbbVieJanuary 15, 2015, Washington, DC – The ADAP Crisis Task Force (Task Force) has reached a new pricing agreement between AbbVie and AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) for Viekira Pak (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir tablets; dasabuvir tablets) for the treatment of hepatitis C (HCV). AbbVie is the first company to offer a discount on the ADAP price of an HCV medication in the era of new curative HCV treatments. The agreed-upon ADAP price for Viekira Pak, negotiated between the Task Force and AbbVie, reflects voluntary discounts and rebates that are significantly lower than the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC).  While many ADAPs may not be able to add Viekira Pak to their formularies due to fiscal constraints, this agreement recognizes the importance of access to hepatitis C medications for people living with HIV and demonstrates good faith that access at a discounted price may lead to formulary inclusion. ADAPs make individual decisions about adding new medications to their formularies. Continue reading