hand painted sign nailed to a tree saying "aids is real and it is cruel"
Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases focuses on legal, regulatory, and policy responses to HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. This area includes the development and implementation of legal preparedness instruments.

Featured Projects

Big Ideas for HIV Prevention and Treatment

In advance of World AIDS Day on December 1st, the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law has released two new reports on emerging HIV issues in the United States, including policy ideas for states and local communities and for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. The reports were written by two leading HIV/AIDS policy experts, Jeffrey S. Crowley, Distinguished Scholar and Director of Infectious Disease Initiatives at the O’Neill Institute, and Sean Bland, a Senior Associate at the O’Neill Institute.

Infectious Disease Initiatives Year in Review 2018

World AIDS Day is December 1, and it has been another incredibly busy and productive year at the O’Neill Institute. The O’Neill Institute has expanded its Infectious Disease Initiatives with new projects and activities in the past year. The Infectious Disease Initiatives work to focus US domestic efforts to respond to the ongoing HIV epidemic, educate the public and support policy responses to promote access to curative Hepatitis C treatment, and address infectious disease threats associated with drug use epidemics across the US, including the unfolding opioid crisis. We have continued to work hard to build upon the progress made in recent years and to keep policymakers and community stakeholders committed to ending the epidemics of HIV and hepatitis in the United States and around the world.

HIV and Public Health Surveillance: Legal, Policy, Ethics, and Human Rights Considerations

In November, The O’Neill Institute’s Sean Bland and Jeffrey Crowley will join Auntré Hamp and Jay Smart from Office of the Senior Vice President for Research at Georgetown University, to begin work on assesses the relevant legal, policy, ethics, and human rights considerations when using new technologies in public health surveillance and programming as part of the United States and global responses to HIV. This project will launch with the generous support of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiative.

Addressing Policy Barriers to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Uptake and Planning for Long-Acting Agents for Treatment and PrEP Treatment and PrEP

In October 2016, the O’Neill Institute received a generous grant from the amfAR Foundation for AIDS Research to examine critical policy issues that impact access, availability and acceptability of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and long-acting agents, which are innovative forms of PrEP and HIV treatment that are under development and do not require daily pill taking. The project will explore how to support uptake of effective HIV prevention and treatment modalities for adolescents and young adults, with a focus on young Black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.

On July 16, 2018, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, released four reports, “Long-Acting HIV Treatment and Prevention Are Coming: Preparing for Potential Game Changers,” prepared by O’Neill Institute scholars Jeffrey S. Crowley and Sean E. Bland. The reports highlight the education and policy dialogues needed to prepare for innovative long-acting products under development to treat and prevent HIV infection. 

Briefing on Long-Acting HIV Treatment and Prevention

amfAR and the O’Neill Institute hosted a briefing on July 16, 2018 at Georgetown Law in connection with the release of the four reports, “Long-Acting HIV Treatment and Prevention Are Coming: Preparing for Potential Game Changers.”

Jeff Crowley’s Plenary Session at USCA 2017

In September 2017, Jeffrey Crowley presented at a plenary session of the United States Conference on AIDS, “REIMAGINE: Reset. Refuel. Retool.”

HIV Prevention: Assessing Our Progress and Charting a Future Direction

In June 2017, the O’Neill Institute established an HIV Prevention Project to understand what is working in HIV prevention, identify issues and opportunities for progress, and describe future directions for HIV prevention. The goal of the project is to engage with federal, state, and local policy and program staff, people living with HIV, researchers and others to explore these issues and describe a vision for future progress. This project is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Gilead Sciences.

In March 2018 in advance of AIDSWatch, we released an issue brief, HIV Prevention in the United States: Federal Investments are Saving Lives and Strengthening Communities. At a time when many policy makers are asking fundamental questions about the impact of public investments on various programs, this issue brief examines the dynamic nature of the HIV epidemic in the United States to assess what our country has accomplished, where things stand, and where continued federal leadership and funding are needed to keep reducing the size and scope of the HIV epidemic.

Monitoring the Hepatitis C Epidemic in the United States: What Tools are Needed to Achieve Elimination?

Hepatitis C is the most common cause of viral hepatitis infections in the US, and it can cause severe health complications such as liver cancer or death. It is estimated that 3.5 million Americans currently have Hepatitis C, yet there exists limited data monitoring or case surveillance conducted to determine the full scope of the disease in the US and to inform efforts to reduce prevalence. This brief focuses on the current state of Hepatitis C data monitoring and surveillance, and identifies new practical and achievable policies and actions to strengthen our capacity to work toward elimination.

Improving Laws and Policies for Sex Workers

In December 2016, the O’Neill Institute received a generous grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation to explore the impact of laws and policies on sex workers’ access to clinical care and social services and recommend potential criminal law and policy reforms to better support sex workers in Washington DC. This collaboration between the O’Neill Institute, Whitman-Walker Health, and HIPS, with the Institute as the project lead, explores how sex workers in DC access health care; how they interact with law enforcement; and how laws, policies, and practices designed to disrupt commercial sexual activity and/or drug use impede access to HIV prevention and care services.

Blueprint for HIV Biomedical Prevention

The O’Neill Institute is working in partnership with NMAC to examine the status of biomedical HIV prevention research and implementation in the United States. The focus of the project is to explore how to bring the promise of biomedical HIV prevention to all communities highly impacted by HIV. Biomedical HIV prevention offers a range of tools that can effectively prevent HIV infection. These tools include treatment as prevention (TasP), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Hepatitis Policy Project

The Hepatitis Policy Project (HPP) focuses on issues and barriers of access to effective treatments for hepatitis C. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C-related deaths are on the rise as are rates of liver disease and liver cancer, which are often caused by hepatitis C. The agency also says the vast majority of adults infected with hepatitis C are baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965) and most don’t know they have it. Many were infected in the 1970s and 1980s when rates of the disease were highest.

Ryan White Policy Project

The O’Neill Institute has established a Ryan White Policy Project to consider issues related to sustaining and adapting the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (Ryan White) within a changing health care environment. This project is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Gilead Sciences.

Funded by the federal government at nearly $2.3 billion per year, the Ryan White program is the third largest source of financing for HIV care after Medicaid and Medicare and is the cornerstone of the Nation’s response to the domestic HIV epidemic. The purpose of this Ryan White Policy Project is to consider issues that arise as the context in which the program operates is altered both by technological advances and fundamental shifts in health care financing and service delivery with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).