By Rhonda Phill, Manager, Global Program, NASTAD
“If we focus where the infections are happening by geography and population we can get to control the epidemic.” Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at the 20th International AIDS Conference
Map of the Bahamas
The emphasis on location and population is increasingly recognized as a critical strategy in the movement to achieve an AIDS Free Generation. However, as the World Health Organization (WHO) noted in its recently released guidelines, “health data, including HIV prevalence data, are less robust for key populations,” rendering it difficult to effectively target HIV prevention, treatment, and care efforts among those most at risk. Recognizing the critical importance of generating and using quality data to design evidence-based HIV interventions for key populations, NASTAD has collaborated with Ministries of Health throughout the Caribbean region, one of the regions hit hardest by the HIV epidemic, to build targeted response capacity. Continue reading
By Lucy Slater, Director, Global Program, NASTAD
NASTAD works to bridge science, policy and public health in order to support a world free of HIV/AIDS. To this end, and in line with the U.S. National AIDS Strategy and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s (PEPFAR) mission, NASTAD is using the HIV Care Continuum framework to “raise the bars”. The HIV Care Continuum is a tool that helps to demonstrate need and measure progress toward increased access to and retention in medical care and ART as a primary means to prevent new HIV infections. NASTAD believes that by supporting all components of the HIV Care Continuum, we move closer toward achieving an AIDS-free generation. Continue reading
By Carlos De Leon, Senior Associate, Health Equity and Prevention, NASTAD
Every person carries with them a unique story that, in some manner, affects the person that they are and they embody. It is uncommon to be given a platform and adequate time to openly and honestly talk about these experiences in depth while feeling safe and comfortable in exposing our raw selves. This is especially true for sexual minorities, same gender loving men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), especially men of color within this group. Gay men/MSM continue to be the most severely affected community by HIV and Black and Latino gay men/MSM are disproportionately affected. Young gay men/MSM, aged 13 – 24, from 2008 – 2011 accounted for the greatest percentage increase (26%) in diagnosed HIV infections. In the aforementioned youth group, Blacks and Hispanic/Latinos constituted 58% and 20%, respectively, of all young gay men/MSM in 2011 infected with HIV. Black young gay men/MSM aged 13 – 24 experienced the largest increase in diagnosed HIV infections among all racial/ethnic groups. The over representation of Black and Latino gay men/MSM newly infected or living with HIV is due to numerous issues including access to health care and institutionalized stigma. Moreover, many gay men/MSM encounter unique challenges in expressing their sexuality openly and comfortably. Continue reading
By Erin McElderry, Associate, Prevention, NASTAD
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), released in 2010, is the nation’s guide towards taking measureable steps to end the HIV epidemic. It proposes a bold vision: “The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.” Within that overarching vision is a call to action to target resources towards communities disproportionately impacted by HIV—in particular gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). The NHAS stressed, “the United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men.” Continue reading
By Emily McCloskey, Manager, Policy and Legislative Affairs
Today, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) released A Path to Policy: A Blueprint for Community Engagement and Advocacy. The toolkit is designed to assist state health departments and HIV and viral hepatitis programs build their advocacy, policy development and implementation and community engagement efforts.
Public health agencies are the central authorities of the nation’s public health system that serve an essential role in the monitoring, prevention and management of HIV and viral hepatitis. Evidence-informed, science-based, effective public health programs that increase access to prevention, care, treatment and support for people living with HIV and viral hepatitis are a key part of how we can collectively Raise the Bars. These programs are most successful in legal and policy environments that incorporate a human rights approach to HIV and viral hepatitis. Because they provide a unique perspective, state health departments must be able to advance policy, advocate for programs and work with the communities they serve.
In order for state health departments to have an impactful advocacy effort, the health department must engage with many partners and utilize different cohesive, coalition-building strategies. This toolkit is intended to provide health departments with guidance for establishing, improving or sustaining meaningful community engagement, advocating for resources and policies necessary to end the epidemics, and educating policymakers and the public about their health department’s role, programs and the importance of accelerating HIV and viral hepatitis prevention, treatment and care nationwide.