Increasing Access to Treatment for HIV and Hepatitis via Patient and Cost-Sharing Assistance Programs

By Amanda Bowes, Associate, Health Care Access and Viral Hepatitis, NASTADPatient Assistance Programs

The treatment landscape for both HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) is evolving in exciting and dramatic ways. This excitement is often curbed, however, by high priced drugs and restrictive insurance practices that impacted populations face when accessing health care services. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes an unprecedented expansion of access to both private and public health insurance, the cost of insurance (i.e., premiums, co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles) remain too high for some individuals, even with the availability of federal subsidies. Continue reading

How Meaningful Community Engagement Can Help End HIV

By Maria Courogen, Director, Office of Infectious Disease, Washington State Department of Health

Maria Courogen, Washington State Department of Health

Maria Courogen, Washington State Department of Health

As I began my tenure as NASTAD’s chair in May 2014, I was reminded of the great work that my immediate predecessors, Dawn Fukuda—Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health—and Randy Mayer—Chief of the Bureau of HIV, STD and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health—led during their time at the helm. It was a privilege to serve as an officer during both of their terms, as Randy created conversation regarding HIV criminalization and Dawn discussed the transformative power of the Affordable Care Act in the fight against HIV. The themes and work that resulted have pushed us further toward our shared mission of raising the bars as we strive to reach the goals laid out by the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy across all of our jurisdictions, for all populations. Continue reading

When the Silence is Not Our Own: Facing Invisibility as Black, Queer, and Trans

By Shaan Michael Wade, Intern, Communications, NASTAD

In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) and Black History Month, NASTAD created a blog series to highlight voices within the Black community which often may remain silent, go unheard and are currently bearing the burden of the HIV epidemic: Black gay men/MSM, young Black gay men/MSM, members of the Black transgender community and Black women. We hope this blog series will serve as a springboard for even richer conversations and bring true awareness to National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The previous blog posts in the series can be found below: 

In 1977, Audre Lorde posited that our silence will not protect us. While the silence is slowly coming to an end for some, for others it is overwhelming. The silence we endure is not always our own. As a Black female-to-male transgender person—or trans man—who has sex with cisgender (non-transgender) men, I am often rendered invisible by the miseducation of my peers, professionals and society.

In 2013, I moved to Washington, D.C., a city that consistently ranks as one of the top five impacted by the domestic HIV epidemic. Until a close friend became positive, I had never questioned my own risk of infection. Despite the social desexualization of transgender men, I had a very active sex life. Can I actually become infected with HIV? Continue reading

A Conversation with Wendy Craytor, former Alaska State AIDS Director

By Anna Carroll, Manager, Global Program, NASTAD

Editor’s Note: With a very heavy heart, we share that founding NASTAD member Wendy Craytor from Alaska died on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Wendy was delivering a workshop for NASTAD’s Global program with Gen Meredith and Anna Carroll in Guyana when she suffered a major heart attack and stroke. Gen and Anna never left Wendy’s side and worked miracles to ensure Wendy got the best emergency response possible. In memory of Wendy, we celebrate her many contributions to NASTAD’s domestic and global programs. The following post was written in February, prior to Wendy’s passing.

Wendy Craytor served as the Alaska State HIV STD Director from 1988 – 2008. She was a founding member of NASTAD and, as such, was involved in hiring Julie Scofield, the Executive Director of NASTAD, and in establishing the organization’s early strategic directions. When the NASTAD Global Program was founded in 2002, Wendy joined one of the initial NASTAD Global teams and began providing technical assistance (TA) to one of NASTAD’s international partners.  She has continued to provide Global TA during her retirement.

Wendy Craytor

Wendy Craytor

I have been fortunate to work with Wendy in Guyana, where she has supported the NASTAD Global Program, providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health. During our last trip to Guyana, I sat down with Wendy to ask her about her experiences with NASTAD, both as an AIDS Director and as a NASTAD Global Program TA Provider. Below are edited excerpts from our conversation. Continue reading

Interview: My Life as a Young, Black, Gay Man Impacted by HIV in the South

By Darion Banister, NASTAD Youth Ambassador

Darion BanisterIn recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) and Black History Month, NASTAD created a blog series to highlight voices within the Black community which often may remain silent, go unheard and are currently bearing the burden of the HIV epidemic: Black gay men/MSM, young Black gay men/MSM, members of the Black transgender community and Black women. We hope this blog series will serve as a springboard for even richer conversations and bring true awareness to National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The previous blog posts in the series can be found below: 

In my experience working with young people there exist a different form of bias called adultism. When I learned about this term it resounded in me because not only have I been guilty of it, but I have also experienced it in my life and continue to hear the stories from NASTAD Youth Ambassadors on this issue. Adultism is the disrespect of the young, consideration of young people being less important to adults, dismissal of youth issues, and exclusion of young people as decision makers. Incorporating youth in all steps of youth programming is key for success. NASTAD Youth Ambassadors serve as leaders in their respective communities who are doing innovative work to improve the well-being of other gay men. In order to serve our youth to help meet their needs, the NASTAD Youth Ambassadors program seeks to facilitate new opportunities for young gay men to partner with health departments. For this blog series, and thinking about overlooked voices, we consulted Darion Banister, a NASTAD Youth Ambassador about his experience living in the Southern region of the United States as a young, Black, gay man.  Continue reading