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NOVEMBER 2, 2012
Hurricane Sandy

We at AIDS United want to take this opportunity to express our concern and well-wishes for all those along the Atlantic Coast, especially the Northeast, who were affected by Hurricane Sandy this past week. You are in our thoughts, and we hope for a speedy and safe recovery.

Election Day is TUESDAY! VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!

Election Day is this Tuesday, November 6th! Both President Barack Obama (D) and Governor Mitt Romney (R) have made it clear that the vote you cast on Election Day is a vote for one of two very different paths. As a country, we are at a crossroads, and this election will determine the future of many aspects of our lives.

Whomever the next President is will determine whether or not the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is fully implemented. The landmark health care reform law will expand health care access to millions of Americans, including those living with and at risk of HIV/AIDS. This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions (including HIV status), bans lifetime limits on insurance coverage, and increases access to critical prevention services, including HIV testing. The next President will face an ever-growing deficit and will be forced to make decisions regarding budget cuts on social programs that will have an impact on every single American. He will most likely be charged with nominating at least one Justice to the Supreme Court, which is expected in the near future to hear cases regarding same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and others with major societal implications. He will also preside over the 2013 reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act, a crucial program that provides support services and covers healthcare costs for over 500,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

We cannot stress the importance of this election enough! Four days from now, our votes will decide which path this country takes. Regardless of political affiliation, we encourage everyone to exercise her or his right to vote on Election Day, this Tuesday, November 6!

Want to know why the staff at AIDS United is voting on November 6? Click here to find out: https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.499249803421219.121674.179909895355213&type=3

Tell us why you pledge to vote on November 6 here. And don’t forget to send us a picture!

What Do The Presidential Candidates Say About HIV/AIDS?

Want to know what President Obama and Governor Romney have said about HIV/AIDS in the past? Check out this fact sheet to learn more: http://www.aidsunited.org/uploads/Presidential_Factsheet_V9.pdf

HIV Disclosure and Criminalization Take Center Stage at PACHA Meeting

Voluntary disclosure, HIV criminalization and implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy were the hot topics at the convening of the 48th Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in Washington, D.C., last week. Other topics of the two-day meeting, which was presided over by chair Nancy Mahon of the MAC AIDS Fund, included the Affordable Care Act and reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act.

The update regarding safe and voluntary disclosure was extremely powerful and featured presentations by Antigone Dempsey of the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment (CHAC), Scott Schoettes of Lambda Legal, and AIDS United’s very own Linda Scruggs. During the second day of the meeting, PACHA unanimously voted to adopt the safe and voluntary disclosure resolution presented during the first day’s update, and a final version of the document will be released soon. A few of the guiding principles regarding safe and voluntary disclosure of HIV status taken from the resolution include:

1. Society has an obligation to create a safe environment for disclosure.

2. Discussion of HIV and STI status is important.

3. The circumstances and context of disclosure must be respected.

PACHA’s adoption of the safe and voluntary disclosure resolution is a huge step forward for people living with HIV/AIDS! It provides PACHA with a blueprint for action as we work towards creating an environment conducive to safe and voluntary disclosure.

PACHA additionally featured a robust discussion of criminalization from the standpoint of several advocates working to change laws in the states and at the federal level. Catherine Hanssens, the Executive Director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy provided a possible resolution on behalf of the Positive Justice Project’s Federal Advocacy Work Group (on which AIDS United’s Bill McColl serves as a co-chair). Sean Strub, Executive Director of the Sero Project, showed a short film, “HIV is Not a Crime” (the film can be viewed here: http://seroproject.com/video/hiv-is-not-a-crime/#tabs1) and highlighted prosecutions of people living with HIV resulting in incredibly harsh sentences. Finally Megan McLemore, Senior Researcher with Human Rights Watch, highlighted the related issue of police using condoms as evidence of prostitution, which puts sex workers at greater risk for becoming infected with HIV.

During the afternoon’s public comment period approximately 10 people who either had been prosecuted under HIV specific statutes, or who were related to people who had been prosecuted, spoke about their situations. Perhaps most moving was Donald Bogardus from Iowa, a man living with cystic fibrosis who is awaiting sentencing in Iowa. He faces as much as 25 years in prison despite having been virally suppressed and not actually transmitting HIV to his partner.

Unfortunately, PACHA did not pass the criminalization resolution despite the proposal of several changes designed to meet member concerns. A particular concern was that PACHA should ensure that people who had been infected despite their partner’s knowledge that they were HIV-positive also had an opportunity to speak. It was also stated that parts of the resolution were not clear and might leave the impression that PACHA was dismissive towards people who became infected in this situation. As a result, the resolution was moved back to the disparities committee with a request to move forward quickly on a resolution. It should be noted that some of the items in the disclosure resolution were similar to proposals in the criminalization resolution that may help address the concerns regarding criminalization.

To learn more about PACHA, please visit the website here: http://aids.gov/federal-resources/pacha/about-pacha/index.html


The North Carolina AIDS Action Network Needs Your Help!

Recently, Governor Perdue of North Carolina has said she is going to use $5 million in projected unspent funds from the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) to fund an expanded pre-kindergarten program. However, ADAP still needs to close its waiting list and re-expand its list of covered medications to include life-saving drugs for heart disease, diabetes, Hepatitis C, mental illness and other conditions common for people living with HIV/AIDS. Lisa Hazirjian, Executive Director of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network, has responded, saying that “jeopardizing the well-being of one group of people to meet the needs of another does us no good.” Kids need healthy parents as well as pre-K programs. This isn’t an either/or equation – it’s both/and.

Please consider emailing Governor Perdue to tell her that kids need healthy families as well as pre-K programs! You can learn more and send an email here: http://statevoices.salsalabs.com/o/72/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=442

To learn more about the recent proposal, visit: http://ncaan.blogspot.com/2012/10/press-release-advocates-concerned-by.html and http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/10/27/2440905/advocates-for-children-dont-like.html

Learn More About Voter Intimidation Tactics!

The Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization that is helping organize communities of color to dismantle and reform the unjust and inequitable policies that undermine democracy, has released a resource informing voters of common intimidation tactics. These tactics are often aimed at people of color, seniors and college students. As a follow-up to last week’s policy update on voter identification laws, please check out this great resource from the Advancement Project so that you can recognize and report voter intimidation tactics! http://b.3cdn.net/advancement/725fe8340d8c30f2ea_36m6ivlt0.pdf

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