IDSA AND HIVMA SUPPORT HELP ACT PROVIDING
LOAN REPAYMENT FOR HIV HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (February 7, 2020)–—Today Rep. John Lewis introduced the H.R. 5806, HIV Epidemic Loan-Repayment Program (HELP) Act with Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Frederica Wilson as original co-sponsors. The legislation, introduced on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, would authorize a loan repayment program offering up to $250,000 over five years to physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and dentists who provide HIV treatment in areas with health professional shortages or at Ryan White-funded clinical sites.
Statement from Judith Feinberg, MD, chair of the HIV Medicine Association:
“As more people need lifelong HIV care, the number of HIV clinicians entering the field falls far short of demand, creating critical access issues. The HELP Act seeks to boost the number of HIV health care workers by repaying often devastating student loans, enabling new health practitioners to work in areas with high need, that include the South and rural states such as West Virginia, where we are seeing HIV outbreaks due to the epidemic of substance use disorders. We applaud Rep. Lewis for his leadership on key health issues that include the HIV epidemic and encourage his colleagues in the House to support this bill.”
Statement from Thomas File, Jr., MD, FIDSA, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America:
“The diminishing pipeline of infectious disease specialists calls for urgent interventions like the HELP Act to improve patient care. Only half of all Americans with HIV receive regular care and treatment. We should seize the momentum created by the Trump administration’s Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative and this new legislation introduced by Rep. Lewis. We need a well-trained and available HIV and ID clinical workforce to dramatically impact the HIV epidemic as envisioned by the new federal initiative.”
Statement from Melanie Thompson, MD, constituent of Rep. Lewis and past chair of HIVMA:
“Swift passage of the HELP Act will be critical to reverse HIV workforce shortages here in Atlanta, in rural Georgia and throughout the South, which is now the epicenter of the epidemic while our Southern HIV workforce is stretched beyond thin. Nationally almost half of those newly diagnosed with HIV are African Americans, but here in metro Atlanta, which had the second highest rate of new diagnoses in the nation, that number is as high as 87%, depending on the county. Rep. Lewis’s commitment to tackling these issues has been unwavering and now, with his HELP Act, we have the opportunity to make real headway in the South and throughout the U.S. as we work toward ending HIV as an epidemic.”
While advancements in medicine enable people with HIV to remain healthy, a serious shortage of qualified health care professionals to treat the disease will compromise access to quality care and treatment. IDSA and HIVMA support Rep. John Lewis’ HELP Act, which recognizes the need to retain current HIV clinicians and to encourage more health professionals to do this important work. This need is especially critical in communities of color, who experience higher rates of HIV and AIDS-related deaths. Research has shown that people living with HIV have better health outcomes when under the care of expert HIV clinicians.
IDSA and HIVMA encourage lawmakers to support the HELP Act, a critical step toward improving access to HIV care and treatment and to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.
About the HIV Medicine Association
HIVMA is the professional home for more than 6,000 physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to the field of HIV/AIDS. The Infectious Diseases Society of America created HIVMA to promote quality in HIV care and advocates policies that ensure a comprehensive and humane response to the AIDS pandemic informed by science and social justice. See more at: http://www.hivma.org.
IDSA is an organization of physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to promoting health through excellence in infectious diseases research, education, prevention, and patient care. The society, which has over 12,000 members, was founded in 1963 and is based in Arlington, Va. See more at: idsociety.org.