Monitoring Health Department Supported HIV Testing Programs

By Natalie Cramer, Director, Prevention, NASTAD

2012 National HIV Prevention Inventory Testing Survey ReportLast fall, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) released the first report of our 2012-2013 National HIV Prevention Inventory on health department HIV testing programs. This report is a follow-up to previous NASTAD reports on rapid HIV testing and testing in health care settings and contributes to our continuing efforts to monitor health department supported HIV testing programs. Findings in this report contribute to the development and prioritization of our technical assistance activities and guide education and advocacy efforts. Continue reading

Early HIV Diagnosis: New Opportunities for State Health Departments

By Liisa Randall, Consultant, NASTAD

National HIV Testing Day 2013Each year on June 27th, we mark National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) as an opportunity to further promote HIV testing as an important HIV prevention tool and as the critical first step to linking individuals living with HIV with medical care and support services that can help them stay healthy and improve their quality of life.

Missing an opportunity to diagnose acute HIV infection has important public health implications. Health departments play an important role in HIV testing in that health department HIV prevention programs conduct more than three million tests each year. During the acute phase of HIV infection, individuals are highly infectious and research has demonstrated that acute infection contributes disproportionately to HIV transmission. Research also suggests that treatment of early HIV infection with antiretroviral therapy (ART) may delay disease progression and may also decrease the severity of acute disease.

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Addressing HIV and Viral Hepatitis Among Native Gay Men and Two Spirit People

By Lynne Greabell, Director of Member Services and Leadership Development, NASTAD

Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2012In conjunction with the seventh annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, NASTAD published an issue brief, Native Gay Men and Two Spirit People and HIV/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Programs and Services. The issue brief, developed by NASTAD’s Native American Networking Group (NANG) and Gay Men’s Health Equity Work Group (GMHEWG), provides specific recommendations for health departments to address HIV and viral hepatitis in Native American communities, consistent with the NASTAD and National Coalition for STD Directors’ joint policy statement “Getting to Zero: Scaling-Up Health Department Strategies for Gay Men/MSM.”

Native gay men and Two Spirit people (i.e., men who have sex with men [MSM] or what we would call male-bodied Two-Spirit individuals) face unique and specific challenges and opportunities related to their health and well-being such as stigma and discrimination due to their sexual orientation and gender status. Yet tribal traditions and connections through Two Spirit and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) networking also can serve as protective factors (e.g., opportunities for cultural pride and education about prevention of disease acquisition) for Native gay men and Two Spirit people. Continue reading

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Fighting HIV/AIDS through the Affordable Care Act

By Mildred Williamson, HIV/AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Public Health and Amna Osman, Director, Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control, Michigan Department of Community Health

Amna Osman, Director, Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control, Michigan Department of Community Health

Amna Osman, Director, Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control, Michigan Department of Community Health

Mildred Williamson, HIV/AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Public Health

Mildred Williamson, HIV/AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Public Health

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a day to “Share Knowledge. Take Action.” As public health officials leading the fight against HIV and health inequities in our states, we recognize that the path to ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. must include women and girls. So, today is a day to educate women and girls and their communities about the impact of HIV and offer a clarion call for us to take charge of our health. HIV/AIDS remains a serious public health challenge for women and girls. In 2009, women made up approximately a quarter of individuals living with HIV in the U.S. Furthermore, in 2009, African-American and Latina women accounted nearly three-fourths of new HIV infections among all women in the U.S. For African-American women and girls, the HIV infection rate in 2010 was 20 times that of White women and girls. As the backbone of our communities, women should share their stories and empower our girls and others around us. As said by the great poet Maya Angelou “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Continue reading

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Spotlight on Responding to the Epidemic Among Black Gay Men/MSM

By Blake Rowley, Nicolas A. Rango Health Equity Fellow, NASTAD

Blake Rowley, Nicolas A. Rango Health Equity Fellow, NASTADThis February, we observe Black History Month, and today we recognize National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Today represents an opportunity to mobilize members of the Black community to learn their HIV status and make decisions to live healthy lives, regardless of their HIV status. More than thirty years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Blacks are disproportionately affected across all stages of the disease (from diagnosis to viral suppression). Continue reading