26 Oct The American Academy of HIV Medicine Calls on Congress to Enact the BIO Preparedness Workforce Act of 2021
Washington, DC: The American Academy of HIV Medicine today extended its support to the newly introduced bipartisan Bolstering Infectious Outbreaks (BIO) Preparedness Workforce Act (H.R. 5602). Sponsored by Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA) and David McKinley (R-WV), the Act will help to build the next generation of infectious disease experts who will prepare for and respond to emerging health threats, including physicians, pharmacists, advanced practice providers, laboratory professionals, infection preventionists and dentists. The legislation will also help to address the critical workforce shortage in HIV clinical care for providers who deliver HIV treatment in a designated health professional shortage area or a clinical site funded under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. The Academy calls on Congress to quickly pass this legislation.
“This bill is especially important at a time when the Biden Administration has committed to ending the HIV epidemic and there is broad Congressional support for addressing the country’s many healthcare challenges, including the need for improved public health and clinical workforce infrastructure,” stated Bruce J. Packett, executive director of the Academy. “The U.S. faces severe workforce capacity challenges to effectively treat people with or at risk for HIV – a reality compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Not only has the ongoing pandemic exposed gaps and weaknesses in our nation’s preparedness for public health emergencies related to infectious disease (ID) outbreaks, but the state of the ID workforce also has challenged our efforts to address ongoing epidemics and public health threats, including HIV, TB, viral hepatitis, infections associated with the opioid epidemic, and antimicrobial resistance.
The BIO Preparedness Workforce Act of 2021 would address financial barriers that prevent medical professionals from pursuing careers in bio-preparedness and infectious diseases, including HIV, by providing loan repayment for health professionals who spend at least 50 percent of their time engaged in bio-preparedness and response activities anywhere in the U.S. or 50 percent of their time providing infectious diseases care in medically underserved communities and federally funded facilities. A goal of the program also will be to increase the number of healthcare professionals from populations underrepresented in health care and working in these fields.
In 2020, the Academy surveyed its membership and found that 36 percent of respondents planned to retire by 2030. That same survey found that nearly 42 percent of respondents had experienced difficulties recruiting and hiring HIV clinical staff (MD, PA, NP, RN, Advanced Practice RN, Pharmacist) in the previous 12 months, with nearly 60 percent of respondents reporting having felt it more difficult to hire clinical staff than it was five years prior. Yet, 78.7 percent of respondents expected more providers would be needed for HIV-related care in their community over the next five years.
There are an estimated 1.2 million people with HIV in the U.S. and it’s imperative to ensure that the number of medical professionals specializing in HIV care keeps pace, and that those providers are located in communities where they are most needed.
It’s important for Congress to act now to strengthen the ID workforce to be prepared for the next outbreak, and to ensure that people living with and at risk for HIV have access to trained HIV care providers so they can have healthy and fulfilling lives. The COVID-19 pandemic shone a bright light on the gaps in our public health infrastructure, but we have the tools to close those gaps. The BIO Preparedness Workforce Act is one of those tools.
If you would like an interview with Academy leadership regarding the impact this legislation would have on the HIV workforce and patient care, or to speak with a HIV Specialist™ in your area, please reach out to Amber McCracken, Director of Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.659.0699 x13.
The American Academy of HIV Medicine in an independent, national organization of frontline HIV specialists and health care providers dedicated to promoting and ensuring excellence in HIV care. Our membership comprises over 3,500 frontline physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists across the U.S. who specialize in HIV health care and are dedicated to delivering optimal HIV care and prevention services. We support our members by providing specialized resources and on-going professional education. We also advocate for public policies that maximize their ability to care for their patients.
 Bill authorizes appropriated funds of $50,000,000 for each FY’23-27.