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NOVEMBER 16, 2012
AIDS United's Public Policy Committee Comments on Election Results and Implications for HIV/AIDS

This week at AIDS United, we interviewed Katy Caldwell, Rebecca Haag, John Peller and Randy Russell—members of our Public Policy Committee—about the implications the election results might have on certain aspects of HIV/AIDS-related policy issues. We asked them to weigh in on the following questions:

1. “Now that President Obama has been reelected, we know that implementation of the Affordable Care Act will move forward. However, many governors and state legislatures, especially those in the South, are resisting Medicaid expansion and health insurance exchanges. How do you see these important aspects of the Affordable Care Act affecting people with HIV/AIDS?”

2. “Given the results of Tuesday’s elections, what is your outlook for the upcoming year on Ryan White reauthorization, possible lifting of the ban on federal funds being used for syringe exchange programs, and other HIV-related priorities?”

What did they have to say? Click here to find out!

Deadline for State Health Insurance Exchanges Extended

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced yesterday that the deadline for states to declare whether they will set up health insurance exchanges has been extended a month to December 14, 2012 at the request of numerous Republican governors. The exchanges are online marketplaces, due to open on October 1, 2013, where uninsured individuals will be able to shop for coverage and learn about their eligibility for financial assistance or Medicaid.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, on behalf of the Republican Governors Association, requested that states be given additional time to consider implementing health exchanges. Many states had delayed making a decision on the exchanges while attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act played out in Congress and the Supreme Court. Many Republican governors were hopeful that Governor Romney (R) would be elected president and would repeal the Affordable Care Act, thereby removing the need to establish health exchanges. President Obama’s reelection, however, has left many governors scrambling, and they will now have an additional month to decide if and how they will implement state health exchanges.

In her letter to the Republican Governors Association, Sebelius stated that the extension will provide governors with “enough time to decide whether they want to establish an exchange, work in partnership with the federal government or have a federally facilitated exchange in their state.” At least 26 states have declared they will not establish exchanges, meaning that the federal government will need to step in and do most of the work of creating the exchanges.

These exchanges will be crucial to people living with HIV/AIDS; 24% of people living with HIV/AIDS are uninsured or rely entirely on the Ryan White CARE Act to provide coverage for their medical and care expenses.

AIDS United Field Team Hosts Medicaid Advocacy Training in South Carolina

By: Charles Stephens

One of the more optimal paths to achieving an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic as we know it is through the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act in this country. We are presented with a critical opportunity, particularly through the expansion of Medicaid, to increase access to HIV prevention, care and treatment. The evidence suggests this will reduce the number of new HIV infections and improve health outcomes for those living with HIV. This approach would also move the needle in creating greater parity in healthcare access, and improve the overall health outcomes for people living with HIV. In the U.S. South this change would quite literally save lives. Unfortunately, the southern region far too often lags behind the rest of the country on healthcare issues and certainly in HIV/AIDS treatment and care. Click here to read Charles’ full blog post about this training.


Mark Dybul Named Executive Director of the Global Fund

Mark Dybul, a former United States Global AIDS Coordinator, was appointed Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on November 15. According to the Global Fund’s announcement, “Dr. Dybul is widely recognized as a visionary leader on global health for his role in helping create and then lead the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, which has been highly effective in helping limit and reverse the growth of HIV infection worldwide. Trained as a medical doctor with a specialty in immunology, he became an expert on AIDS as a clinician, a scientist and as a strategically minded administrator.” To read more about his appointment, click here.

World AIDS Day is Approaching!

December 1, World AIDS Day, is quickly approaching! This year, AIDS United Regional Organizer Charles Stephens will be speaking at the 3rd International Conference on HIV Stigma on Friday, November 30, 2012 at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

This free, open to the public, all-day conference will also feature notable HIV/AIDS scientists and clinicians such as Dr. Sohail Rana, a professor of pediatrics at the Howard University College of Medicine; and Nick DeLuca, Ph.D, the Prevention Communication Branch Chief in the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Others speakers include Jeanne White Ginder, AIDS activist and mother of Ryan White; Dr. Gregory Pappas, director of the office of HIV/AIDS for the District of Columbia; Daniel Montoya, deputy executive director for the National Minority AIDS Council; Priscilla Reddy, Ph.D., unit director of Health Promotion Research and Development Unit for the Medical Research Council in Cape Town, South Africa; Maria Alvarez, lead public health advisor for the CDC; Wardah M. Rajab-Gyagenda, Ph.D., director of research for the Publications and Innovations Islamic University in Uganda; and Dr. Chinkholal Thangsing, of the Touch of Hope Foundation in Gurgaon, India.

Workshop panels include “Youth”, “Faith Based Ministries – Challenges and Lessons Learned”, “Stigma in Immigrant Populations: African and Latino Perspectives”, and “Designing Peer Driven Disclosure Focused Intervention as a Means for Addressing and Reducing HIV Related Stigma”.

Despite significant advances in treatment, HIV continues to spread unabated in the US and globally with little, if any, change in the rate of new infections. Stigma is a major barrier to HIV prevention and treatment that has not been addressed. Each year, the conference focuses on ways to combat the stigma associated with HIV.

You can register to attend the conference here. If you’re unable to attend, you can watch a live-streaming of the event here.

AIDS United grantees and stakeholders are also busy for World AIDS Day! To see a list of some of the cool World AIDS Day activities planned by AIDS United grantees and stakeholders, click here.

The next policy update will be released on November 30.

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