Our Agenda

As we move forward with our 2015/2016 agenda, we welcome your feedback, and encourage you to sign up for Action Alerts to get updates and opportunities to take action and have your voice heard.

Budget and Legislative Priorities

Getting to Zero New HIV Infections

While once steadily declining, the number of new HIV infections appears to have plateaued over the last 4 years in Massachusetts. We have the tools to end this stagnation and tangibly reduce new infections to get to the ultimate goal of zero new infections, and we call on Massachusetts public officials to take a leadership role in this fight.

New research demonstrates the effectiveness of taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a regimen of HIV medications that can significantly reduce the risk of HIV-negative individuals getting infected. We now also have significant evidence that those already infected with HIV have a much lower likelihood of transmitting the virus when they adhere to their medication and reach viral suppression.

With the recently demonstrated efficacy of both PrEP and treatment as prevention, we can begin to move towards the ultimate goal of zero new infections. Massachusetts must commit to ensuring testing, access to treatment, support services to retain people in care, and access to PrEP, and together we can reach the goal of zero new HIV infections.

Budget Priorities

FY2021 Budget Request – Project ABLE and Massachusetts Viral Hepatitis Coalition

 

Advocates Ask for $32.8 M in Funding for the HIV/AIDS/HCV Line Item (DPH 4512-0103) in the Massachusetts State Budget: An Increase of $2 M and to fully fund the Harm Reduction Line Item (DPH 4512-0206)

 

What Does the HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis C Line Item Pay For?

  • Services for people living with HIV/AIDS like Health Navigation and Housing Support Services
  • Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) and holistic harm reduction drug user health programs
  • Testing for HIV, Hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Linkage to care and navigation to treatment

Demand for these services has only grown and expanded in the past four years leaving organizations to provide more services to a growing number of people

 

What an Increase of $2 M Can Do

  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP)
  • PrEP is a prescription medication that, when taken daily, is highly effective at preventing HIV infection (can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%)
  • There are currently 5,124 PrEP users in MA
  • For every one person on PrEP there are 6.29 people at risk who are not

 

Expanding Access to PrEP in MA

  • Through Workforce Development:
    • Address the need for clinical integration
    • Provide more Hepatitis C testing in Syringe Service Programs (SSPs)
    • Cultivate Culturally Competent Care
  • Invest in PrEP Health Navigation
    • Extend outreach efforts
    • Expand capacity for same day prescriptions
  • Build on the network of harm reduction created by SSPs across the state

 

Please support $32.8M for HIV/AIDS/HCV Line Item (DPH 4512-0103) * Getting To Zero in MA is possible!

More information: maryann.hart@hartgovrelations or 617.797.8488

 

Key Facts for HIV

  • There were 611 new diagnoses 2017
  • Between 2016 and 2018, an outbreak of HIV occurred in the Merrimack Valley; the majority of these cases were among people who inject drugs (PWID) who were also experiencing homelessness
  • Between December 2018 and December 2019 , 25 cases have been linked to an outbreak in Boston

 

Key Facts for Hepatitis C (HCV)

  • In Massachusets, HCV Cases have remained high, with 8,000 to 9,000 cases reported each year
  • In 2016 , 2,408 cases were reported between the ages of 15 and 29
  • Of all of the individuals in MA living with HIV, 17% have also been infected by HCV

 

Key Facts for Opioids

  • In the first nine months of 2019, there were 1,091 confirmed opioid related overdose deaths in MA. The Department of Public Health estimates that there was an additional 337 to 402 deaths in the last three months of 2019.
  • As of January 1st, 2020, 52 people were diagnosed with HIV who had injected drugs within the last year.

 

Download our FY2021 Project ABLE Budget Request Fact Sheet (PDF)

Top Legislative Priorities

2019 – 2020 Top Legislative Priorities

HIV/AIDS RELATED LEGISLATION

(H1954, S1237)  An Act relative to HIV prevention access for young adults (Rep. Lewis and Sen. Cyr)

The current statute permits minors to consent to healthcare for many stigmatized services including treatment of STIs & HIV, but not prevention services such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). This bill adds prevention services to the healthcare minors may consent to without parental permission, removing a significant barrier to critical care.  In July of 2018, the FDA approved the use of PrEP for minors and recommended its use for those at risk of HIV infection.

 

(H1712)  An Act relative to preventing overdose deaths and increasing access to treatment (Rep. Fernandes)

A safer drug consumption program provides a space for people who use drugs to consume pre–obtained drugs under the supervision of healthcare professionals or other trained staff and may provide other related services including but not limited to needle exchange, overdose prevention, and referrals to treatment and other services.

 

(H624, S364)  An Act relative to Massachusetts home care eligibility (Rep. Peake and Sen. Jehlen)

As people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are living longer and aging, some are also experiencing early onset of age-related illness and impairment.  The bill would expand access to homecare services before the age of 60 to address health needs of long term survivors.

 

(H1926, S1208)  An Act Relative to End of Life Options (Rep. Kafka and Sen. Brownsberger)

At one time, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis meant days, weeks, or months of excruciating and debilitating conditions before death. While people currently living with HIV/AIDS now can live long and healthy lives, we support the right of those in a similar conditions due to other illnesses to have the opportunity to safely self-administer lethal medication. This bill gives qualified terminally ill patients the right to obtain a prescription for medication that they may choose to self-administer for a humane and dignified death.

 

(H1955, S1303)  An Act improving Hepatitis C screening (Rep. Lewis and Sen. Montigny)

Currently screening requirements for Hepatitis C (HCV) only apply to those born between 1945 and 1965, also known as the baby boomers.  Due to the large increase of new HCV infections, especially amongst young people and people who inject drugs (PWID), this bill would expand that screening protocol to include anyone over the age of 18.

 

LGBTQIA+ RELATED LEGISLATION

(H140)  An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors (Rep. Khan)

Sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts — also known as conversion or reparative therapy — treat homosexuality and transgender identity as mental disorders. This bill bans licensed professionals from providing fraudulent and often abusive practices that purport to change a minor’s same-sex attraction or gender identity.

 

(H410, S263)  An Act Relative to Healthy Youth (Rep. O’Day and Rep. Brodeur)

Currently there are no uniform standards for sexual health education in Massachusetts and many students are never educated about sexual health and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. This bill requires each school district or public school that offers sexual health education to provide medically accurate and LGBTQ inclusive education including healthy relationships, contraceptive use, and sexually transmitted infections.

 

(H1341, S905)  An Act to collect data on LGBTQI prisoners held in restrictive housing (Rep. Balser and Sen. Cyr)

Although LGBTQI prisoners are often placed in restrictive housing for their purported protection, restrictive housing does not protect them from harm.  LGBTQI people are sent to restrictive housing more frequently than the general population.  This bill will require state and county correctional facilities to collect data on voluntarily disclosed sexual orientation and gender identity of prisoners placed in restrictive housing.

 

HOUSING RELATED LEGISLATION

(H3066, S2043)  An Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families (Rep. Khan, Sen. Chandler)

Obtaining a state identification card is a critical first step for youth and adults experiencing homelessness to accomplish typical life tasks and access opportunities.  This bill calls on the Registry of Motor Vehicles to waive the $25 fee for Mass IDs for applicants who are experiencing homelessness, and to accept alternative verifications of Massachusetts residency from state agencies and social service agencies.

 

(H1314, S816)  An Act providing a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness (Rep. Pignatelli)

People experiencing homelessness often are subjected to discrimination and mistreatment based on their housing status. The bill of rights is a guide for state and local officials emphasizing that people experiencing homelessness are entitled to the same rights as any other resident of Massachusetts: the right to move freely in public spaces, the right to equal treatment by municipal agencies (such as police departments), freedom from discrimination in employment, the right to emergency medical care, the right to register to vote and to vote, freedom from disclosure of records, and the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of property.

 

(H1264)  An Act to further provide a rental arrearage program (Rep. Decker)

People who are unhoused or unstably housed often cannot build up savings, pursue education, maintain good health, or adequately feed themselves and their children. In addition, those facing housing instability frequently find themselves on the brink of falling behind on rent or mortgage payments, which can then lead to eviction, and force a household into homelessness.  This bill would fund a new resource to provide the necessary, swift assistance to remain in their homes.

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Please contact Carrie Richgels at crichgels@fenwayhealth.org with any questions.