Monitoring Health Department Supported HIV Testing Programs

By Natalie Cramer, Director, Prevention, NASTAD

2012 National HIV Prevention Inventory Testing Survey ReportLast fall, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) released the first report of our 2012-2013 National HIV Prevention Inventory on health department HIV testing programs. This report is a follow-up to previous NASTAD reports on rapid HIV testing and testing in health care settings and contributes to our continuing efforts to monitor health department supported HIV testing programs. Findings in this report contribute to the development and prioritization of our technical assistance activities and guide education and advocacy efforts. Continue reading

Early HIV Diagnosis: New Opportunities for State Health Departments

By Liisa Randall, Consultant, NASTAD

National HIV Testing Day 2013Each year on June 27th, we mark National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) as an opportunity to further promote HIV testing as an important HIV prevention tool and as the critical first step to linking individuals living with HIV with medical care and support services that can help them stay healthy and improve their quality of life.

Missing an opportunity to diagnose acute HIV infection has important public health implications. Health departments play an important role in HIV testing in that health department HIV prevention programs conduct more than three million tests each year. During the acute phase of HIV infection, individuals are highly infectious and research has demonstrated that acute infection contributes disproportionately to HIV transmission. Research also suggests that treatment of early HIV infection with antiretroviral therapy (ART) may delay disease progression and may also decrease the severity of acute disease.

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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