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OCTOBER 19, 2012
Domestic Policy Debates Conclude Without Addressing HIV/AIDS

Despite efforts of AIDS United and our advocates to urge presidential and vice-presidential debate moderators to ask questions about how each administration would address HIV/AIDS, none of the three debates featured questions or answers specifically about HIV/AIDS. 

Since the beginning of October, presidential candidates President Barack Obama (D) and Governor Mitt Romney (R) have faced off in two debates and vice presidential candidates Vice President Biden (D) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) went head-to-head in one debate. Each of the debates featured discussion about some domestic policy issues, including health care, but not HIV/AIDS directly. The final debate, scheduled for Monday, October 22 at 9:00 Eastern time, will focus solely on foreign policy.

“It is certainly alarming that not a single candidate mentioned HIV/AIDS throughout these three debates,” said Ronald Johnson, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at AIDS United. “This election is probably one of the most important elections for the HIV community since the epidemic began, because it will determine how – or if – we will use all of the tools that we now have available to end the HIV epidemic.”

Johnson said that the November 6 outcome will impact how the U.S. pursues the goals of its National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the reauthorization of Ryan White Program, and funding for important institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. The next president also will determine the future of health care reform and Medicaid expansion in the United States, programs which are essential to many people living with HIV/AIDS.

“People living with HIV or affected by HIV have a lot at stake in this election,” said Johnson. “We still need to hear how the next President will respond to the epidemic here in the United States.”

 AIDS United had been working to mobilize stakeholders and advocates to get the candidates on the record about HIV/AIDS by urging debate moderators through Facebook and Twitter to ask HIV-related questions. Advocates were asked to tweet suggested HIV questions to the moderators, and post those questions on the moderators’ and/or news outlets’ Facebook pages, adding the hashtag #debateHIV to create an online Twitter discussion about the debates.   

“They may have not debated HIV/AIDS, but we will continue to push the discussion,” said Johnson. “It is essential that we continue the dialogue about HIV/AIDS so that all candidates and elected officials are held accountable for creating an AIDS-free generation.”
Voter Identification Laws – Know Yours and Vote!

This election season, Americans have certainly seen their share of inflammatory rhetoric, polarizing discussion and heated debate – all about a myriad of issues that will be dramatically affected by the outcome on November 6. And, as most of these issues are impacted BY the outcome of the election, one contentious issue has been a flashpoint FOR the outcome of the election – voter identification laws.

While voter identification laws are, on the surface, designed to prevent voter fraud, the reality is that the degree of strictness of the laws may suppress eligible voters from going to the polls because of the confusion those laws create for voters about their eligibility. And it is more important than ever that all eligible Americans – especially people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS – get out and vote! Knowing your state’s voter identification laws NOW will ensure that you will be able to cast your vote in the 2012 election.

The Current Climate of Voter Identification

Confusion is understandable. Thirty-three states have enacted voter ID laws and the laws in 30 of those are in effect for in the 2012 election. Recently, several states have had some high-profile volleying between lawmakers and the courts about their respective laws. For instance, on October 10, a federal court ruled that South Carolina’s new voter ID law strictly requiring voters to present a valid photo ID at the polls could not be enforced for the upcoming election because it did not allow for enough time to properly educate voters and election officials about the change. However, this law could be enacted in 2013 and be enforced in future elections. Similarly, on October 2, a Pennsylvania judge blocked a law that would require voters in Pennsylvania to present a photo ID in order to vote on November 6, claiming that the necessary information and documents would not adequately be provided in time for the election. Despite this ruling, election officials in Pennsylvania may still ask voters for valid forms of identification on November 6th; however, voters do not need to present a valid ID in order to vote on a normal voting machine. 

Varying Law Strictness and Identification Type Requirements

While voter identification laws are in effect in 30 states, the type of identification required and the strictness of the law varies from state to state. In some states, voters without an ID can simply sign an affidavit affirming their identity or have an election official vouch for their identity prior to voting, and are then eligible to vote using standard voting machines. In other states, voters who cannot produce a valid photo ID are eligible to vote using a provisional ballot, which requires them to return to election officials with a valid photo ID within a certain amount of time from the election in order for their ballot to be counted.

History, Evolution, and Implementation of Voter Identification

IDs were not always required in order to vote. In fact, no state required voters to produce valid forms of identification until 2006, when Indiana passed a strict photo ID law. However, the past few months have seen a substantial increase in the number of states attempting to pass stricter voter identification laws requiring voters to present a government issued photo ID. Proponents of these laws, the majority of whom are Republicans, believe it will reduce voter fraud. Those who oppose these laws argue that individual voter fraud is very rare and that ID laws are an attempt to reduce voter turnout among those groups that do not possess identification -- and who also tend to vote Democrat -- including student, poor, urban and minority voters.  Even in states where obtaining a valid photo ID is free, the process often requires people to pay for a copy of their birth certificate or travel long distances.

Know your State’s Voter ID Laws! Get out and Vote!

These voter ID laws could have a significant impact on voter turnout; as lawmakers and judges spar over their validity, voters are left confused about their eligibility and therefore may be less inclined to vote on November 6. And for people living with HIV/AIDS, the outcomes of this election will affect implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Affordable Care Act, as well as funding for critical federal HIV research, prevention, care and treatment programs. In what is sure to be a close election, every vote counts! To find out what YOUR state requires,  visit http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx.

If you haven’t yet registered, check out your state’s voter registration deadlines and, if you are within the deadline, register TODAY at http://www.longdistancevoter.org/voter_registration_deadlines#.UIF9e2fz5sp .

For more information on the history of voter identification laws and current discourse on the topic, visit

http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-voter-id-laws .

http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/policy_brief_on_the_truth_about_voter_fraud/

AIDS United Hosts Webinar “FACING THE FISCAL MIDNIGHT HOUR: How End-of-Year Budget Decisions Will Impact Health Care and HIV”

On October 18, the AIDS United Public Policy team hosted a webinar focusing on the critical budget decisions that Members of Congress will need to face by the end of the year, regardless of the November 6 election outcomes. Nearly 50 grantees and stakeholders attended the webinar and learned about sequestration, possible implications of budget decisions, the effects they will have on non-defense discretionary spending and organizations involved in this work, and ways in which to mobilize with our lawmakers. To view the webinar, click here.

Announcements

Ryan White Working Group Meeting, November 30, 2012

The Ryan White Work Group of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership (FAPP) has scheduled an in-person meeting for Friday, November 30th following the HRSA All Grantees Meeting in Washington, DC (exact building and room still being decided). The Work Group is tasked with creating a “community agreement” that can be used as the basis for any Ryan White Program reauthorization legislation. The meeting will also create a strategy for advocating for next steps for the Ryan White Program with Congress and other partners.

Please RSVP to Melissa Donze, AIDS United’s Zamora Fellow at zfellows1@aidsunited.org. Please let the Work Group know ASAP about your attendance as they require an accurate count to determine how large a space they need and to order food and other materials. For additional questions regarding the meeting or the process please contact the Ryan White Work Group co-chairs Ann Lefert from NASTAD (alefert@nastad.org, 202-434-8044) or Bill McColl from AIDS United (wmccoll@aidsunited.org, 202.408.4848 x247).


CDC’s Division of HIV and AIDS Prevention is Hosting Community Engagement Sessions for Capacity Building

The CDC’s Division of HIV and AIDS Prevention is hosting multiple Community Engagement Sessions for Capacity Building around the country! These meetings will inform the continued alignment of CDC’s HIV prevention capacity building assistance program with the High Impact HIV Prevention approach to prevention and care strategies, and the cascading imperatives outlined in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). This is a great opportunity for HIV prevention and care practitioners from health departments, community-based organizations, and clinical settings to discuss implementation strategies. For more information regarding registration and locations, please visit

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=lcleyecab&v=001_bti-hHe0Cy8WCCrM6ntlnsops7ajiPggib2J4WpQ1_KzNj5sHRinZT2nXM_JWldkhIK9kXSbrlQlljR00Se6ZxU8e2Ze42jpJ1ew0FOLHaxw-9_Pm1DLRSkyhGrGRIAjdMGrDq5sd7KfLDgyqsashJIpBFm-U5AAWdmhpkt0SvXTNx7j9iYo04A_vPynnCl


Interactive Webinar on the Affordable Care Act and Women Living with and Affected by HIV

The 30 for 30 Campaign and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School are hosting a webinar on the Affordable Care Act and Women Living with and Affected by HIV. The webinar is scheduled for October 29 from 1:00-2:30 pm EST, and is being hosted in conjunction with the recent release of the White Paper and Executive Summary “Affordable Care Act Priorities: Opportunities for Addressing the Critical Health Care Needs of Women Living with or at Risk for HIV.” Panelists will discuss:

  • The current state of advocacy for women living with and affected by HIV with a special focus on federal and state efforts underway;
  • HIV prevention and care approaches that address women's unique needs, including the integration of supportive services, HIV care and treatment, and sexual and reproductive health;
  • How the Affordable Care Act can address gaps for women and the importance of Ryan White and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy; and

Resources for use in local organizing and coalition efforts to influence the implementation of health care reform.

To register for the webinar, please visit http://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=E950DF8388483C


National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. Hosting “Turning the Tide Together: Addressing HIV/AIDS and Health Disparities in Black Communities”

The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. is hosting “Turning the Tide Together: Addressing HIV/AIDS and Health Disparities in Black Communities.” Speakers include Ronald Johnson, AIDS United’s Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, who will be speaking on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Other topics include Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and Treatment as Prevention. The event is free and open to the public, and is being held on Monday, October 29 from 6:00-8:30 pm at the Mural Pavillion at Harlem Hospital Center in New York, NY. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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