March 22, 2018

Young, Markey, Baldwin Introduce Legislation to Fight Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced the Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018, S.2579, to address increased rates of infectious diseases caused by substance use disorders. This legislation would authorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand the scope of an existing CDC initiative to focus on eliminating infectious diseases caused by injection drug use. This includes working with states to improve education, surveillance, and treatment of opioid use-related infectious diseases like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C.

The connection between HIV, hepatitis C, and injection drug-use became evident following an outbreak in Scott County, Indiana, cited by the CDC as “one of the worst documented outbreaks of HIV among IV users in the past two decades.” The crisis in Indiana serves as just one example of communities, both large and small, who are in need of more targeted resources to stop the spread of preventable diseases.

“As the opioid crisis continues to devastate families across the country, we must ensure our communities have the tools necessary to help combat the spread of addiction and disease,”said Senator Young. “By expanding the scope of CDC’s Hepatitis C surveillance and education program to focus on opioid use-related infectious diseases, this commonsense legislation will help halt the spread of deadly diseases associated with the opioid epidemic.”  

“A public health emergency requires a public health response, and that includes enhancing detection, education, and treatment efforts to mitigate the risks of hepatitis C, HIV, and other infectious diseases related to opioid use disorders,” said Senator Markey. “Massachusetts had more reported cases of hepatitis C than any other state in 2015, the same year we peaked in overdose deaths caused by illicit opioids. With more than 220 counties across the United States at risk of a hepatitis C or HIV outbreak related to the opioid crisis, we cannot afford to wait any longer to arm our states with the tools needed to tackle all of the public health consequences of this epidemic. I thank Senators Young and Baldwin for their leadership and partnership in this effort.”

“The opioid epidemic has far-reaching and deadly public health impacts including the spread of infectious diseases,” said Senator Baldwin. “Washington needs to step up and help states improve education, detection and treatment of infectious diseases related to opioid and substance use disorders. We need to make sure our communities have all the tools they need to save lives, improve health and fight this public health crisis on all fronts.”

The Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018 is supported by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NAACHO), the AIDS Institute, the American Liver Foundation, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR).