What the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act Means to Public Health

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

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

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

This month, Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation, HR1843, the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage or Allow Legal (REPEAL) HIV Discrimination Act. The REPEAL Act calls for laws and policies that demonstrate a public-health oriented, evidence-based, medically-accurate and contemporary understanding of HIV transmission, risks of transmission based on means of exposure, current health implications of living with HIV and the benefits of treatment and comprehensive support services. Continue reading

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.
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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