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

Standing Up for an AIDS-Free Generation on World AIDS Day

By Julie Scofield, Executive Director, NASTAD

Standing Up for an AIDS-Free GenerationTomorrow is World AIDS Day and as I reflect on the past year, I realize that collectively, many developments over the past year are very important in our fight to eradicate HIV here at home and abroad. At AIDS 2012, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said “We have a historic opportunity — with science on our side — to make the achievement of an AIDS-free generation a reality,” and he is right. We are in the midst of implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will increase access to and quality of care for people living with HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis and the first over-the-counter HIV test were both approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Just last week the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a draft recommendation in strong support of routine HIV testing for all adolescents and adults ages 15 through 65, pregnant women, and others at increased risk for HIV younger than 15 and older than 65 by assigning it a Grade “A”. This is a monumental shift in the USPSTF’s previous recommendation of testing only for people who are “at risk” for HIV and pregnant women.  Under the ACA, this recommendation will require that HIV tests for all be reimbursed by private insurers.
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