Open Enrollment 2015: Are You Ready?

By Xavior Robinson, Senior Manager, Health Care Access, NASTAD

Open Enrollment 2015The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) second open enrollment period is just around the corner. On November 15th, millions of people will have the opportunity to apply for a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) for the first time, renew their existing coverage, select a new plan, or be directed to apply for Medicaid. For state HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs, open enrollment presents an opportunity to build upon the more than 25,000 AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) clients that were transitioned to health insurance coverage during the first open enrollment. In the time since the inaugural open enrollment period ended, programs have been preparing for November 15th by partnering with community-based organizations to expand outreach and enrollment capabilities, refining insurance purchasing processes to assist clients with premiums and co-pays, and working with clients to maintain access to insurance coverage. As programs prepare for open enrollment, keep in mind the following priorities and action steps.

Continue reading

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. 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

How Health Departments Are Addressing the Viral Hepatitis Epidemic in the U.S.

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

Maria Courogen

Maria Courogen, Washington State AIDS Director, speaking at the launch of the updated Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.

In my role in Washington State, I oversee the state health department’s work in the areas of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tuberculosis and viral hepatitis. In my role as a member of NASTAD’s Executive Committee and Chair-Elect, I work with state health department colleagues across the country, many of whom have a similar portfolio of work, to provide leadership in the country’s response to HIV and hepatitis. As such, On April 3, I participated in an event hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the release of the next iteration of the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.

Continue reading

Communicating about HIV and Viral Hepatitis in Complex Times

By Meico Whitlock, Senior Manager, Communications, NASTAD

Cross-posted from AIDS.gov

Meico WhitlockLast month, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) attended the fourth annual Plain Talk in Complex Times conference in Arlington, Virginia. This year’s theme was “Communicating in a Time of Change.” The conference was hosted by the MAXIMUS Center for Health Literacy in collaboration with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and brought together leaders and decision-makers in fields such as public health, health communications, digital media, usability, accessibility, translation, interpretation, readability, design, and plain language to discuss communicating effectively with health consumers.

Sessions covered a range of topics such as writing for mobile device users, providing high quality care to linguistically diverse populations, and communicating effectively with numbers. A number of sessions also focused specifically on technology and provided helpful tips for tasks such conducting low-cost usability testing, enhancing website accessibility, producing podcasts, and graphic design for print materials. Continue reading