The Public Health Approach to Ending HIV Criminalization

by Oscar Mairena, Manager, Policy and Legislative Affairs and Viral Hepatitis

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

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

On December 4, NASTAD joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), in collaboration with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, for the United States National Dialogue on the Criminalization of HIV Transmission, Exposure & Non-disclosure: The Role of States & the Federal Government. NASTAD presented on the public health approach to ending HIV criminalization and NASTAD Chair Randy Mayer, Chief of the Iowa Bureau of HIV, STD and Hepatitis joined Iowa State Senator Matt McCoy in discussing the importance of the partnership between the state legislature and public health to modernize HIV criminal policies in Iowa.
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.
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

The Potential Impact of Sequestration on HIV and Hepatitis Programs

Julie Scofield, Executive Director, NASTAD

Julie Scofield, Executive Director, NASTAD

By Julie Scofield, Executive Director, NASTAD

In January 2013, budget cuts totaling approximately 8 percent of spending across federal programs are set to go into effect as result of an agreement made between Congress and the White House last summer in the debate over raising the debt ceiling. As part of this agreement, the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to produce a bill by November 23, 2011, identifying budgetary savings of at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years, has triggered an automatic spending reduction process known as sequestration.

The Impact on U.S. States and Territories

NASTAD recently worked with state AIDS directors to conduct an analysis of the impact of sequestration on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs. NASTAD found that state HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs will have to eliminate prevention initiatives, remove clients from AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) and other vital health coverage services and layoff critical health department program staff. Continue reading

The Devastating Impact of Budget Sequestration on State HIV and Hepatitis Programs (and How You Can Help Stop It)

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

Editor’s note: This letter was originally sent to NASTAD members and was published with the permission of the author.

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

Dear Colleagues,

As previously reported by NASTAD, the Budget Control Act of 2011’s sequestration process will result in a cut of up to $1.2 trillion starting in January 2013. This will mean an 8.2 percent cut to HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs. NASTAD’s analysis of these cuts to HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs found that:

  • 15,708 enrolled clients will be removed from ADAP
  • 412 HIV positive people will not find out their status due to cuts to testing funding
  • Ryan White Program Part B grants will be cut by over $34 million
  • HIV prevention by health departments will be cut by $28 million
  • HIV surveillance by health departments will be cut by $9.7 million
  • Viral hepatitis prevention will be cut by $1.6 million, an amount which currently funds nine viral hepatitis prevention coordinators (VHPC)

Continue reading