(TRENTON) – The Murphy Administration on Tuesday said New Jersey is ahead of federal efforts to halt the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), having already set a 2025 eradication deadline and implemented several prevention and treatment programs. President Trump is expected to announce a 2030 deadline during his State-of-the-Union address.
Although welcoming any additional support from the federal government, the Murphy Administration noted that it had set a more immediate deadline and also highlighted efforts already under way to halt the transmission of HIV.
Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson, Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal and Acting Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks highlighted Administration-wide initiatives to stop the spread of HIV in New Jersey
“We welcome whatever support we can get from the federal government, but we set a more urgent goal in New Jersey because ending the epidemic is a top priority,” Commissioner Johnson said.
“The Murphy Administration is taking action to halt the transmission of HIV and related infections such as Hepatitis C, and is working to make New Jersey a leader in this fight,” Commissioner Johnson said. ““Human Services has expanded hepatitis C treatments for all Medicaid enrollees in the state, including individuals with HIV. Human Services is also creating Medicaid Centers of Excellence for opioid treatment, which will provide treatment to patients with opioid addiction and co-occurring conditions, such as HIV and hepatitis C.”
Commissioner Elnahal said the state is “at a critical point in history where the intersection of advances in medical science, critical work by advocates and non-profits, and government leadership can finally end this epidemic.”
“On World AIDS Day in 2018, the Department of Health announced the Governor’s commitment to end the HIV epidemic in New Jersey by 2025 by promoting innovations in testing, linking individuals with treatment and medications that are effective in preventing transmission of the virus, and retaining them in care,” Commissioner Elnahal said. “In New Jersey, the rate of new HIV cases has declined 39 percent in nearly a decade because of success in getting people tested for HIV and linked to treatment. This will be expanded vis-à-vis our work with the Ryan White program, offering PrEP counseling through our extensive family planning care network, and other key progressive initiatives.”
Department of Corrections (DOC) Acting Commissioner Hicks said the DOC provides a variety of services to inmates.
“In Corrections, we have a responsibility to rehabilitate the entire person, and that includes medical, mental health and substance use disorder needs. Within the New Jersey Department of Corrections, appropriate medications are made available to HIV patients without restrictions. Those treatments are provided in tandem with consultation that emphasizes patient education. As a result, HIV suppression of among those patients who have been treated by the NJDOC for at least six months exceeds community standards,” Acting Commissioner Hicks said. “It also should be noted that a subset of the inmate population has been identified that is comprised of those with substance use disorders as well as the Hepatitis C virus. Through a new initiative, this population will receive HCV infection treatment.”
Most recently, the Department of Health announced the expansion of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV prevention (PrEP) counseling to all family planning clinics this year.
PrEP is a daily medication that is highly effective at preventing the acquisition of HIV. When taken as prescribed, PrEP reduces a person's chances of contracting HIV by more than 92 percent.
This initiative will expand access to counseling beyond the current PrEP program, which includes 31 sitesthroughout the state. The Department also recently joined the UequalsU or U=U global campaign led by the Prevention Access Campaign to spread awareness about how effective HIV medications are in controlling HIV in the body and thus preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. There is effectively no risk of sexual transmission of HIV when people living with disease are taking HIV medications as prescribed and have achieved and maintained an undetectable amount of the virus in the body.
Free, confidential rapid HIV testing is available at more than 170 locations in New Jersey. Nearly 80,000 free tests were conducted in 2017.