Alicia Keys at the 2014 Essence Festival to Headline a Special Essence Empowerment Experience Panel with Greater Than AIDS and the Black AIDS Institute

Fifteen time Grammy Award-winning artist and HIV advocate Alicia Keys will join with Greater Than AIDS and ESSENCE to headline a special ESSENCE Empowerment Experience panel on Friday, July 4th at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on “Through Love of Self, Family and Community, Empowering Black Women to End AIDS.”

The hour-long program will open with a one-on-one with Ms. Keys about her passion for ending AIDS to be followed by an engaging and inspiring conversation with women whose lives have been touched by HIV and how they responded. Among those joining Ms. Keys on the stage in conversation: Kym, a young professional who found out she was positive when her new husband became sick and died as a result of HIV/AIDS, and Teresa, a mother whose unconditional love of her HIV positive son has helped him to maintain his treatment and thrive in the face of this disease. At the close of the program the panel will respond to questions from the audience.

The ESSENCE Empowerment Experience is part of the hugely popular ESSENCE Festival, one of the largest and most powerful gatherings in the nation. Prominent cultural icons, celebrities and community leaders convene for thought provoking conversations on health, education, politics, love and relationships, to offer solutions for the audience’s day-to-day lives. The Empowerment Experience is free to Festival attendees and the New Orleans community.

Of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States today, one in four is a woman. Women of color have been especially hard hit, accounting for the majority of new infections occurring among women in this country. If current trends continue, it is estimated that one in 32 Black women will contract HIV in her lifetime.

The program is presented as part the Empowered campaign, launched in 2013 by Greater Than AIDS and featuring Ms. Keys to reach women about HIV/AIDS and the role we all play in helping to end the epidemic. Through targeted media messages, community outreach and special promotions, the campaign promotes specific ways women are empowered in the face of HIV/AIDS, including:

• EMPOWERED to know the facts about HIV/AIDS, including the impact of HIV on women
• EMPOWERED to speak openly about HIV/AIDS with family, friends and others in our lives
• EMPOWERED to protect ourselves and our loved ones
• EMPOWERED to ask to be tested and to know doing so is an act of pride, not shame
• EMPOWERED to live full and healthy lives and help prevent spread of disease if positive by staying on treatment

The program is organized by ESSENCE together with Greater Than AIDS co-founders, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Black AIDS Institute, and Alicia Keys Worldwide. Gilead Sciences, Inc. contributed financial resources to support the program.

Over the three days of the ESSENCE Festival, July 4-6, in the Convention Center, Greater Than AIDS together with the Louisiana Office of Public Health will provide free daily on-site rapid HIV testing, allowing people to receive their within an hour. Everyone who gets tested will be entered in a drawing for a free ticket to the concert that evening. They will also have the opportunity to participate in the souvenir photo / video booth and other activities to bring attention to the impact of HIV. (Greater Than AIDS Booth #1800 in Hall D.) Also during the festival the Black Treatment Advocate Network will be supporting people living with HIV/AIDS, raising HIV literacy and training people and helping them to access care and treatment.

For more information about Greater Than AIDS and the Empowered campaign, including for more details about Alicia Keys’ appearance at the 2014 ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, visit: www.greaterthan.org/empowered.

About the ESSENCE Festival and ESSENCE Empowerment Experience

The ESSENCE Festival has become one of the most powerful African-American gatherings as it represents not only our brightest stars but provides inspiration, purpose and enlightenment through its empowerment programming. The ESSENCE Empowerment Experience features engaging content that brings “the pages of ESSENCE to the stage” with our most prominent cultural icons, celebrities and community leaders who provide various modes of thought and solutions for our audience within our daily, themed discussion. The free Experience has become the daytime destination of the ESSENCE Festival that has made history by having Bill Cosby, Iyanla Vanzant, Tyler Perry, Steve Harvey, Bishop TD Jakes, Soledad O’Brien, Jada Pinkett Smith, Hill Harper, Valerie Jarret, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Marc Morial, and many others share the stage.

Last year, with a record-breaking audience of more than 545,000 Festival-goers, attendance at thedaily Empowerment series reached maximum capacity for thought-provoking conversations on love and relationships, health, education, politics and our all-star inspirational Sunday Gospel tribute. Our media partner MSNBC engaged many of our Empowerment speakers in interviews as they broadcast live from the ESSENCE Festival convention center floor throughout the weekend.

About Greater Than AIDS

Greater Than AIDS is a leading national public information response focused on the U.S. domestic epidemic. Launched in 2009 by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Black AIDS Institute, Greater Than AIDS is supported by a broad coalition of public and private sector partners. Through targeted media messages and community outreach, Greater Than AIDS and its partners work to increase knowledge, reduce stigma and promote actions to stem the spread of the disease. While national in scope, Greater Than AIDS focuses on communities most affected. www.greaterthanaids.org

About Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is a 15 time Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter/producer, actress, New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur and humanitarian. Since releasing her debut album, songs in A minor, Keys has built an unparalleled repertoire of hits with over 30 million albums sold worldwide. As a philanthropist, Keys co-founded Keep a Child Alive (KCA) which provides AIDS treatment, support, nutrition and love to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.

About the Black AIDS Institute
Founded in May of 1999, the Black AIDS Institute is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank in the United States focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute’s Mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. The Institute interprets public and private sector HIV policies, conducts trainings, offers technical assistance, disseminates information and provides advocacy and mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view. http://www.blackaids.org

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Women Living with HIV and Healthy Pregnancies

 

Many women living with HIV wonder if they can have healthy pregnancies. Happily, the answer is yes: With good medical care, women with HIV can have healthy, HIV-negative babies and be strong and healthy parents.

The first step is for women who are HIV-positive to have a candid talk with their HIV provider about whether they want to have children, now or in the future, and the options available to them if they do. Some women with HIV may not feel comfortable talking about such a personal decision, but it is an important talk to have. Some HIV providers might not bring it up, and some might not have the necessary expertise. In such cases, they might refer the patient to an OB-GYN specialist with specific expertise working with women with HIV.

When an HIV-positive woman is ready to have a child, it is important for her to talk with her HIV provider to make sure she is healthy during this time. For an HIV-positive woman, this includes appropriate and consistent treatment for HIV before she gets pregnant.

Current treatment for HIV enables HIV-positive women to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. In the past, prior to effective HIV drugs, one in four HIV-positive women transmitted their infection to their baby. With today’s very effective HIV medications taken before and during pregnancy, the risk of the baby getting HIV is less than 2 percent. If the mother’s viral load is very low and she has no other medical reasons for a Cesarean delivery, an HIV-positive woman can deliver vaginally.

After the baby is delivered, it is important for HIV-positive women to avoid breastfeeding as mothers can pass HIV to their babies through breastfeeding. Instead, women should give their babies formula or ask their doctor about getting human breast milk for the baby from a milk bank.

Having HIV does not mean not having children. Women with HIV can have healthy babies by optimizing their health through medical care for their HIV guided by a supportive health care provider.

Read more about preventing HIV transmission from mother to child during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding on this CDC webpage. AIDS.gov also offers information on its Having Children page.

By William R. Short, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and Margaret Lampe, RN, MPH, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace totals over 8 million people

More than 4.8 million additional Medicaid/CHIP enrollments

Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace surged to eight million at the end of the first enrollment period, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today.  The final enrollment reporting period spans from October 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, and includes “in line” and other enrollment activity (such as people enrolling due to a change in life circumstance) reported through Saturday, April 19, 2014.

Importantly, 2.2 million (28 percent) of those who selected a Marketplace plan were young adults ages 18 to 34 — a number that grows to 2.7 million when counting ages 0 to 34, the report found.  The report also shows, for the first time, the race and ethnicity of the 69 percent of enrollees in the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces who voluntarily reported this information.

HHS also announced today that more than 4.8 million additional individuals enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP through the end of March 2014, compared to enrollment before the Marketplace opened last October.

“More than eight million Americans signed up through the Marketplace, exceeding expectations and demonstrating brisk demand for quality, affordable coverage,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “In addition, over 4.8 million more people have been covered by states through Medicaid and CHIP programs, around 3 million more Americans under 26 are covered under their parents’ plans, and recent estimates show that an additional 5 million people have purchased coverage outside of the Marketplace in Affordable Care Act-compliant plans.  Together we are ensuring that health coverage is more accessible than ever before, which is important for families, for businesses and for the nation’s health and wellbeing.”

Today’s report also details state-by-state information where available. In more than a dozen states, enrollment has doubled since March 1. For example, Texas (149 percent growth), Georgia (127 percent growth), and Florida (123 percent growth) had some of the largest surges in enrollment in the country over the final weeks of the initial open enrollment period.

Key findings from today’s report include:

  • 8,019,763 people selected Marketplace plans from October 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014, (including additional Special Enrollment Period activity through April 19th).  Nearly 2.6 million signed up in the State Based Marketplaces and over 5.4 million in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace. About 3.8 million people, including nearly 1.2 million young adults (ages 18 – 34), enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace plans in the sixth and final reporting period, which began March 2 and concluded on April 19. Those 3.8 million individuals represent nearly 90 percent growth over February’s cumulative enrollment.
  • Of the more than 8 million:
    • 54 percent are female and 46 percent are male;
    • 34 percent are under age 35;
    • 28 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34;
    • 65 percent selected a Silver plan, while 20 percent selected a Bronze plan; and,
    • 85 percent selected a plan with financial assistance.

Today’s report measures enrollment as those who selected a plan.

The federal Marketplace also reported, for the first time this month, the race/ethnicity of its enrollees.  The application for coverage through the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFM) contains questions on race and on ethnicity, both marked as optional. Thirty-one percent of enrollees did not report their race or ethnicity or chose “other.”  However, of those enrollees who reported race and ethnicity:

  • 62.9 percent of those reporting are white;
  • 16.7 percent are African American;
  • 10.7 percent are Latino;
  • 7.9 percent are Asian;
  • 1.3 percent are multiracial;
  • 0.3 percent are American Indian/Alaska Native; and,
  • 0.1 percent are Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.