A Blueprint for Meaningful Community Engagement and Advocacy to End HIV and Viral Hepatitis

By Emily McCloskey, Manager, Policy and Legislative Affairs

A Path to Policy ToolkitToday, 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.

How Health Departments Are Advancing Viral Hepatitis Prevention and Care

By Chris Taylor, Director, Viral Hepatitis, NASTAD

NASTAD World Hepatitis Day 2014 White House Recognition

NASTAD Staff: Left to Right: Murray Penner, Deputy Director; Julie Scofield, Executive Director; Chris Taylor, Director, Viral Hepatitis

Last month, Julie Scofield, Executive Director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), was recognized by the White House Office of Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) for her leadership in the prevention and treatment of viral hepatitis. The event was held at the White House in observance World Hepatitis Day. NASTAD congratulates Julie Scofield and other colleagues recognized for their leadership to address the domestic and global viral hepatitis epidemics.

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Is $1 Enough for Viral Hepatitis Prevention?

By Emily McCloskey, Manager, Policy and Legislative Affairs
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Is 1$ Enough for Viral Hepatitis Prevention?Today, NASTAD released an infographic analyzing viral hepatitis funding. State health departments receive less than $1 dollar in federal funding for every person living with viral hepatitis for the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator (VHPC) program. The VHPC program is the only national program dedicated to the viral hepatitis epidemics and provides the only public health infrastructure for the prevention of viral hepatitis and linking individuals to care and treatment. In order to meet the goals established by the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, the VHPC program must continue to be funded in all existing jurisdictions and increased resources are necessary to coordinate prevention efforts at the state and local levels. Continue reading

The Register’s Editorial: Lawmakers should repeal bad HIV law

By The Register’s Editorial Board

Originally published in The Des Moines Register

The Des Moines Register

The Des Moines Register

Sometimes Iowa lawmakers pursue legislation without a good grasp of the their decisions. That occurred in 1998 when the Legislature gave in to a knee-jerk response to a high-profile national news story about a man from New York who was HIV-positive who had intentionally exposed women to the virus. Continue reading

An Emerging Epidemic: The Public Health Response to Hepatitis C Infection among Young People who Inject Drugs

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

Panelists at the NASTAD and Harm Reduction Coalition Congressional Briefing.

Panelists at the NASTAD and Harm Reduction Coalition Congressional Briefing.

Last year, the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator (VHPC) in Massachusetts, Dan Church, wrote a post about the increasing rate of acute hepatitis C (HCV) infection among young persons who inject drugs in Massachusetts and the health department’s efforts to prevent new infections, identify existing cases, educate individuals vulnerable to acquisition, and enhance surveillance and data collection to better address the epidemic. Since then, more health departments have reported this trend, especially among young persons who begin using prescription opioids and transition to injecting heroin. Earlier this week, NASTAD partnered with the Harm Reduction Coalition to host a Congressional Briefing, An Emerging Epidemic: The Public Health Response to Hepatitis C Infection among Young People who Use Drugs, to bring this issue to light, educate Congressional staff and reinforce the role of public health in addressing emerging health concerns. Continue reading