The Future of Health Department HIV and Hepatitis Programs

By Dawn Fukuda, Director, Office of HIV/AIDS, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and NASTAD Chair (Incoming)

Dawn Fakuda

Dawn Fukuda, Director, Office of HIV/AIDS, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and NASTAD Chair

For perhaps the first time in history, the end of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis is within our reach. Recent notable achievements provide promise for success, among them the release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (VHAP) and the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Collectively, these achievements have catalyzed the beginning of a radical transformation in our healthcare systems for communities impacted by HIV and hepatitis. In particular, the ACA represents an opportunity for the country to expand access to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis prevention, medical care, and health promotion services in profound and impactful ways. The systems-level changes advanced in the legislation also require state health departments to reassess their role in the context of an evolving health care system and the other sources of financing that may become available to support what have historically been public health functions—this is particularly the case for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis prevention and care services. Continue reading

The Year in Review: A Reflection on the Challenges Health Department HIV and Hepatitis Programs Faced over the Last Year

By Randy Mayer, Chief, Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis, Iowa Department of Public Health and NASTAD Chair (Outgoing)

Randy Mayer, Chief, Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis, Iowa Department of Public Health

Randy Mayer, Chief, Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis, Iowa Department of Public Health

As I began my tenure as NASTAD’s Chair in May 2012, state health department HIV and viral hepatitis programs were trying to understand and react to the impact of the funding redistributions brought about by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ (CDC) HIV prevention funding opportunity announcement 12-1201. At the same time, we were just learning about the possibility of fiscal sequestration, set to begin in early 2013. NASTAD’s analysis pointed to the potential for an overall 8.2 percent cut to HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs that would severely impact ADAP enrollment and critical prevention, surveillance and viral hepatitis programming. The cuts would be especially devastating at a time when ending HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis is within our reach. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Viral Hepatitis Action Plan provide roadmaps for reducing new infections and increasing access to care, but these cuts mean we may never be able to realize these goals. Continue reading

The Impact of Stigma on Public Health Practice

By Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

The vision for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) is that the U.S. will reduce HIV infections and ensure that high-quality, life-extending care will be available to everyone “free of stigma and discrimination.” Given the importance of stigma in addressing the HIV epidemic, we recently hosted a seminar on stigma and public health practice at the 2012 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA). We shared findings from a MAC AIDS Fund (MAF)-supported survey we conducted with the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) to assess the effects of stigma on Black and Latino gay men in the U.S. We also discussed stigma as a barrier to HIV prevention, its role as an obstacle to tackling the treatment cascade – leaving only 25 percent of those infected with undetectable viral loads – and presented two examples of stigma as a structural barrier to achieving the goals of public health. Continue reading

Making Health Reform Work for People Living with HIV/AIDS

By Amy Killelea, Senior Manager, Health Care Access, NASTAD

USCA 2012 Closing Plenary - Affordable Care Act

Left to right: Amy Killelea (NASTAD), John Peller (AIDS Foundation of Chicago), Anne Donnelly (Project Inform), and Celeste Davis (Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation)

The closing plenary at the 2012 U.S. Conference on AIDS tackled the topic of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). I joined my colleagues Anne Donnelly (Project Inform), John Peller (AIDS Foundation of Chicago), and Celeste Davis (Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation) to discuss the role that state and local HIV providers, advocates, and consumers must play to ensure that the ACA is implemented in ways that increase HIV prevention, care, and treatment.

The ACA has been the law of the land for over two years, and there are two things that are abundantly clear. First, the ACA – if fully implemented – is still the game changer that the HIV community fought for in terms of its potential to reduce new infections, increase access to care and treatment, and reduce health disparities. Second, there is no road map for implementation. Unless HIV providers, advocates, and consumers are actively involved in every step of implementation, we as a community will miss an important opportunity to use the ACA to fix our broken health care system in ways that work for people living with HIV. Continue reading

NASTAD is Ready for USCA 2012

USCA 2012

By Meico Whitlock, Communications Manager, NASTAD

It’s been more than one month since AIDS 2012 ended and now it’s time for the 2012 United States Conference on AIDS. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the conference, which takes place September 30 to October 4, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 2012 theme is “Ending the AIDS Epidemic.”

NASTAD will on hand to share how health departments are working to the end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and to learn how we can enhance collaborations with community-based organizations. Continue reading