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August 3, 2012

AIDS 2012 Highlights

What a week! AIDS 2012, the International AIDS Conference (IAC), was held in Washington, D.C. July 23-27, 2012. The week marked the return of the IAC to the United States after 22 years, following the official lifting in 2010 of the shameful law and policy barring HIV positive individuals' entry to the U.S. The last IAC in the U.S. was held in San Francisco in 1990. (Historical trivia: the 1992 conference originally was set to be held in Boston, with Harvard University as a lead organizer, but was moved to Amsterdam because of the U.S entry ban. Harvard continued its role; hence the 1992 conference unofficially was called “the Boston conference held in Amsterdam.”)

As reported by the Conference Secretariat, 23,767 people participated in AIDS 2012, including nearly 19,000 conference delegates (1,900 of whom were media delegates). 183 countries were represented, with 51% of total participants from the U.S. The Global Village, which was open to the public, held 265 official activities.

With over 200 sessions and 3,837 abstracts accepted, it’s impossible to summarize the overwhelming conference in one report. Any summary is also bound to be more than a bit subjective. With that being said, highlights from this delegate’s perspective included:

  • The message that we are at a point where an AIDS-free generation is a real, achievable goal. Finally, 31 years into the epidemic, we have a critical mass of scientific knowledge and evidence-based experience at hand to end the epidemic. The key question moving forward is whether we will utilize this knowledge and experience and mobilize the needed resources and political will to end the epidemic.  
  • A cure for HIV has returned as a substantive, and not just symbolic, agenda item.
  • A sense of unity exists between the domestic epidemic in the United States and the worldwide epidemic.
  • The social determinants and other structural factors that continue to drive the epidemic and impact health must be addressed. This includes continuing to approach HIV/AIDS from  human rights and social justice perspectives.
  • The “We Can End AIDS” Mobilization for Economic Justice and Human Rights, which was held on Tuesday of the conference week
  • Release of results from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN)'s study (HPTN 061, “The BROTHERS Study”) regarding black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in six U.S. cities. Included in the alarming and disturbing findings are: the rate of new HIV infections was 2.8% per year among study participants and the HIV incidence rate was 5.9% per year among participants 30 years and younger.

Although the many sessions, speeches, posters, networking opportunities, and receptions are over, IAC has sparked a sense of real promise and optimism that will hopefully continue as the very real challenges of ending the epidemic are faced in the months ahead. AIDS United will stay engaged and work to keep all of you engaged. We can win this!!!

Below are websites with more information on AIDS 2012 and summaries of the conference: 

AIDS 2012

Kaiser Global Health

UNAIDS

aidsmap.com (scientific reporting)

Former President Bill Clinton’s Speech at the Closing Ceremony Webcast

AIDS United’s Presence at IAC

The Washington Post’s “AIDS In America” Forum Webcast

Blog Post on the Congressional “Thank You” Reception sponsored by AIDS United and the Human Rights Campaign

Summary of HPTN 061 Results

Senator Harkin's Impact of Sequestration Report

On Wednesday, July 25, 2012, the Senate Appropriations Committee–Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies held a hearing on "The Impact of Sequestration on the Non-Defense Discretionary" portfolio (the hearing was webcasted and can be accessed here). There, Senator Harkin released his report, “Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services,” (here, prepared by the Senate Labor-HHS subcommittee based on data provided by the departments under its jurisdiction) which provides data by state on the impact of sequestration. From an HIV perspective, both HIV testing and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) are mentioned and reviewed in the report.

As Senator Harkin explains:

So far, we’ve heard a great deal about sequestration’s impact on Pentagon spending. The defense industry has highlighted the potential impacts of across-the-board cut on defense-related jobs and services. Some Members of Congress are now demanding that we exempt the Pentagon from sequestration, either by finding offsets for the defense cuts only, or by making nondefense programs bear the full brunt of the entire $1.2 trillion in cuts.

But sequestration wouldn’t apply only to defense. It would also have destructive impacts on the whole array of Federal activities that promote and protect the middle class in this country–everything from education to job training, medical research, child care, worker safety, food safety, national parks, border security and safe air travel. These essential government services directly touch every family in America, and they will be subject to deep, arbitrary cuts under sequestration.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Comments Sent to HRSA Urging Ryan White Reauthorization

AIDS United delivered comments to the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) regarding the potential 2013 reauthorization of the Ryan White Program. HRSA has received more than 200 comments (which will eventually be posted online).

Specifically, the comments called for retention of the Ryan White Program to ensure coverage of treatment and care needs unmet by the Affordable Care Act in 2014, both during and beyond transition. The comments called for additional flexibility in funding, ensuring quality of HIV care, a continued focus on health care disparities, review and possibly funding for new services as the technology to treat and prevent HIV advances, and repeal of the current distinction between “core medical” services and “support” services.

In addition, 54 organizations, including AIDS United, signed onto the comments by the Ryan White Work Group, an umbrella coalition of people working on Ryan White Program issues. The Work Group co-chairs are AIDS United’s Political Director William McColl and NASTAD’s Policy and Health Care Access Director Ann Lefert. HRSA has posted comments on the website as they received them beginning in May.

Click here for Public Comments from Regulations.gov.

Click here for AIDS United’s Comments.

Click here for the Ryan White Working Group Comments.

Advocating for an AIDS-Free Generation During AIDS 2012

During the International AIDS 2012 Conference, Western North Carolina AIDS Project's Advocacy Coordinator Peggy Hughes Weil visited her North Carolina legislators, Senator Kay Hagan and Senator Richard Burr, to ask for their support in:

  1. protecting and implementing the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion
  2. increasing funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs
  3. HIV policies based on Science, not politics

Click here to read Peggy Hughes Weil's experience advocating for an AIDS-free generation and how the AIDS United Do-It-Yoursef advocacy toolkit helped her to complete successful legislative visits with her Members of Congress!

World Hepatitis Day Recognized

On July 28th, organizations around the world recognized World Hepatitis Day to focus on people living with hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis is among the most common co-occurring diseases for people living with HIV/AIDS. One in 12 people worldwide is living with either chronic hepatitis B or C. Unfortunately very few people, even in developed countries, are aware that they are infected. People living with hepatitis are at risk for developing liver cancer, and so the long-term objective of the campaign is to prevent new hepatitis B and C infections and deliver improvements in health outcomes.

The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), which also works on viral hepatitis issues, hosted a World Hepatitis Day event on August 2. Speakers included Dr. Grant Colfax (Director of White House ONAP) and Dr. Howard Koh (Assistant Secretary for Health of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). AIDS United was represented at the event by Political Director William McColl.

AIDS United works closely with the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable and other like-minded groups on issues ranging from syringe exchange to seeking passage of the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act (H.R. 3381 and S. 1809). The Viral Hepatitis Testing Act is the most prominent hepatitis-related legislation currently in Congress. If passed, it would expand hepatitis B and C education and testing programs throughout the U.S. and authorize grants to health departments and community programs to increase access to testing and linkage to care.

First launched in 2008, World Hepatitis Day is now recognized at thousands of events around the world. 

Announcements

No AIDS United Policy Updates during August Congressional Recess 

The Policy Update will continue beginning on Friday, September 14. 

Make the best of August by visiting, calling, and emailing your Congress Members and telling them how to reach an AIDS-free generation!

Click here to find your Congress Members.

Learn how to Lobby with the Advocacy Toolkit: "HIV Legislative Week in Washington, D.C.: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Influencing Policy on Capitol Hill!"

Call Congress via the HIV Hotline 202.225.3121 and ask for:
1. Protect and implement the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicaid.
2. Increase funding for domestic and international HIV/AIDS Programs.
3. Advance policies based on science, not politics.


The White House’s Update on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

On July 2012, the White House released an update on the progress made on implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) as well as relevant new activities performed on the Federal level. Published two years ago, the original NHAS report is the first-ever comprehensive national framework on confronting HIV/AIDS domestically, stating explicit and measurable goals to be achieved by 2015.

The four goals outlined in the landmark document include:

  • Reducing HIV incidence
  • Improving health outcomes for people living with HIV
  • Reducing HIV-related health disparities
  • Achieving a more coordinated national response

The NHAS update report emphasizes the progress made in enhancing the: 1) sustainable response to the epidemic (i.e. realigning HIV prevention resources, building partnerships across government and communities, and more), 2) understanding of HIV prevention and treatment science and scaling up effective, evidence-based strategies, and 3) wise investments in HIV efforts, especially crucial in economically challenging times.

Click here to read the entire “NHAS Update of 2011-2012 Federal Efforts to Implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.”


Affordable Care Act Expands 8 New Preventative Health Services to 47 Million Women

Starting on August 1, 2012, eight new preventative health services are covered in many health plans without paying more at the doctor’s office, benefiting approximately 47 million women. 

“President Obama is moving our country forward by giving women control over their health care,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health care decisions.”

The eight new prevention-related services are:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women

Click here to read more about the new preventative benefits for women and watch a video highlighting them.

Use the resources below from HealthCare.gov to learn more about prevention and spread the word!

Visit the updated Prevention & Wellness page on HealthCare.gov.

See the full list of 22 covered preventive services for women.

Blog: Giving Women Control Over Their Health Care.

Read the Health and Human Services’ press release.


Be a Part of Global Female Condom Day–September 12

Last week at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., advocates announced that the first ever Global Female Condom Day will take place on September 12, 2012. The dedicated day of action offers advocates around the world the opportunity to educate their communities about the importance of female condoms. Female condoms are highly effective safe-sex options for women, men, transpeople, and youth. However, most people remain unaware of female condoms or are unable to access them. Global Female Condom Day aims to increase the number of people who know about, use, and advocate for female condoms.

Sign up today to be a part of Global Female Condom Day!

Visit the National Female Condom Coalition website to access the organizing tools your need to increase awareness, access, and use of female condoms locally and globally.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ACA Implementation Forums

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) will host multiple forums to discuss the Affordable Care Act (ACA), specifically on next steps concerning ACA implementation, creation of the Affordable Insurance Exchanges in all states, and coverage provisions of the ACA effective in 2014. These sessions will be hosted across the country and run from 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Please click here to RSVP for one of the following sessions.

August 14: Washington, D.C. (This session will also be webcast)
Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Great Hall
200 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20201

August 15: Atlanta
National Archives at Atlanta
5780 Jonesboro Road
Morrow, GA 30260

August 21: Chicago
Social Security Administration, Center Auditorium
600 West Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60661

August 22: Denver
Davis Auditorium in Sturm Hall, University of Denver
2000 E. Asbury Ave.
Denver, CO 80208

Click here to pre-register (required).

Click here for more information on the Affordable Care Act and Exchanges.

Contact hhsiea@hhs.gov with questions and comments.

If you are a member of the media and would like to attend, please contact Fabien at fabien.levy@hhs.gov.


Coalition for Health Funding's Nondefense Discretionary Letter and Toolkit

On Thursday July 12, the Coalition for Health Funding sent a cross-community letter of support for nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs to all congressional offices and major media outlets. In total, nearly 3,000 national, state, and local groups signed on.

Click here for the NDD Letter.

Click here to read the Coalition for Health Funding's press release.

In addition, the NDD Summit has developed a toolkit of materials to help community organizations promote their participation in supporting NND programs.

  1. Sample press release: Use this press release template to showcase your involvement.
  2. Media talking points: Use these talking points if you receive calls from the media regarding your organization's participation.
  3. Social Media Tip Sheet and Sample Tweets. Direct messaging to the Members of Congress! The tip sheet includes the complete list of Members of Congress and their Twitter handles, as well as other social media accounts.
  4. Customizable NDD Fact Sheet, available here. For your ongoing efforts on Capitol Hill, we encourage you to use this fact sheet and customize it to suit your needs using the blue, editable text box on page two.

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day–September 18!

The AIDS Institute launched the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) on September 18, 2008 to increase awareness of the challenges the aging population faces in HIV prevention, testing, care and treatment. Visit The AIDS Institute's NHAAAD page to learn more about the observance and access resources.

AIDS.gov also offers information on HIV and aging.

Access the webinar hosted by the Administration on Community Living: The Graying of HIV/AIDS: Community Resources for the Aging Services Network Webinar (2012).

We invite the aging population, organizations, and community members to develop, implement and participate in awareness activities and events on or around September 18th.


National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day–September 27!

The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) founded the National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAD) in 2008. Visit the NAPWA’s NGMHAD page to learn more about the observance and register for events hosted in Washington, D.C.

Click here to register for:

  • Gala Red Ribbon Party, Sunday evening, September 25, 8:00 p.m.–midnight at Washington, D.C.’s Town dance club ($10) - VIP Pre-party Reception 6:00-8:00 p.m. ($50).
  • Monday, September 26 all-day conference at D.C.’s Human Rights Campaign headquarters–panels on health and prevention for gay men, the special experience of gay Latinos, and more.
  • Tuesday, September 27 9:00 a.m. prayer breakfast, 12:00 p.m. press conference with District of Columbia Mayor Vince Gray, all-day HIV testing, and 5:00 p.m. Red Flash Mob to release remembrance balloons in D.C.’s Dupont circle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers multiple helpful resources, including this fact sheet on HIV among gay and bisexual men.


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