Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
December 23, 2022
This Week in Congress
As the 117th Congress comes to a close, this week the House and Senate focused on completing action on the FY’23 Omnibus appropriations package.
The House and Senate passed a $1.7 trillion, 4,144-page, FY’23 omnibus spending bill this week. The legislation includes all twelve annual spending bills, plus supplemental aid for the war in Ukraine and US natural disaster victims as well as a number of policy bills. The legislation does not include the $10 billion requested by President for Covid-19 and related health measures; leaves in place longstanding restrictions on federal funding for abortions; and omits a Democratic proposal to bar the Justice Department from investigating or prosecuting people who cross state lines to access abortion. The links to subcommittees bill text and language can be found here
What’s in the Bill for NCSD
The legislation includes a $10 million increase for STD prevention – the largest increase ever provided. A detailed funding chart comparing the agreement with past year’s funding levels can be found here.
The language provisions contained in the agreement will benefit the STD field. The provisions are as follows:
CDC is directed to:
Move the grant year by at least one month to help ease some of the administrative burdens placed upon grantees;
Hold harmless PCHD funding so that no grantee receives less than the amount received in FY’22;
Work with other agencies to address the high rates of STIs;
Expand DASH’s school health activities; and
Work through the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative, to increase equitable access to PrEP.
HRSA is to expand efforts to increase multiple prenatal screening and testing for congenital syphilis (CS) throughout pregnancies to detect and treat CS; and
CMS is to collaborate with DSTDP to develop a screening, treatment, and education initiative under Medicaid.
This week, the Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to let pandemic-era border restrictions end, saying the justices should reject an effort by Republican state officials to intervene in a legal fight. The administration acknowledged to the Supreme Court that the end of Title 42 will likely lead to “disruption and a temporary increase in unlawful border crossings” but asked the court to reject efforts by a group of conservative-leaning states to keep Title 42 in place. Title 42, which was put into effect by the Trump administration at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, allows the US to expel some migrants who had crossed the border illegally, and gives the government the power to stop people entering the US in order to keep diseases out of the country.
Other Legislative Happenings from Around the Nation
A new study from Israel describes 26 cases of misdiagnosed mpox. Of the 26, 6 patients (23%) who were given a diagnosis of bacterial tonsillitis, 6 (23%) primary syphilis, 5 (19.2%) oral or genital herpes, and 4 (15.3%) bacterial proctitis or anal abscess. The study was published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
In the Journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, two opposing commentaries debate whether or not mpox should be considered an STI. While the 2022 global outbreak has largely been defined by sexual transmission among men who have sex with men, the disease has historically been defined via household contact, or animal-to-human contact via the ingestion of bushmeat.
The World Health Organization (WHO), has updated its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine recommendations to include a single-dose schedule, an effort to expand vaccination amid a worrying global decline in coverage. Earlier this year, WHO vaccine advisers endorsed the one-dose strategy as an alternative to the standard three-dose regimen.
Herpes Vaccine Clinical Trial
BioNtech has dosed the first patient with its BNT163 herpes vaccine candidate designed to prevent genital lesions as part of a first-in-human Phase 1 clinical research study, the German vaccine maker said this week. The vaccine is meant to prevent HSV-2, the herpes simplex virus that causes genital herpes, and potentially HSV-1, which causes oral herpes and can lead to genital herpes.
FDA Approves Gilead’s Long-Acting HIV Drug Sunlenca
The FDA has approved Gilead Sunlenca as a therapy for HIV infections, paving the way for a drug that requires less frequent dosing than existing treatments. Sunlenca injection and tablets are expected to cost $42,250 in the first year of therapy and $39,000 annually after that, the company told Reuters.
The Biden administration says it will release the prescription antiviral Tamiflu from the Strategic National Stockpile to states and territories that request it. The US Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday this should help ease access to the medication – one of several types of medicines patients have been struggling to find amid a surge of respiratory viruses, including flu, RSV, COVID-19, and others.