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Re-Entry, HIV Linkage, and Overdose Prevention Webinar

 

 

 

Re-Entry, HIV Linkage, and Overdose Prevention

Philadelphia Moves towards Nation’s First Injection Facility

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Following Pennsylvania’s Statewide Disaster Emergency declaration, which called for addressing the State’s high rates of drug-related deaths, city officials in Philadelphia announced their support for supervised injection facilities, what they are calling “Comprehensive User Engagement Sites,” in a press conference last week. The announcement was an open call to potential investors and operators. If the call is met, then Philadelphia could be the site of the first sanctioned injection facility in U.S. history.

Supervised injection facilities create a critical gateway to other services for people who inject drugs because they are co-located with other social, medical and behavioral health providers designed around meeting the unique needs of this medically underserved population. Supervised injection facilities also benefit the community by decreasing the number of discarded needles, reducing public consumption of drugs and drug-related crime and by reducing the number of overdoses in the community.

Globally, approximately 100 supervised injection facilities exist in 10 countries. There are no such facilities that are sanctioned in the United States, but a significant movement toward opening them is underway in several U.S. cities and towns, including but not limited to: New York City and Ithaca, New York, Denver, Colorado, Portland, Oregon, Baltimore, Maryland, Seattle and King County, Washington, San Francisco, California, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chittenden County, Vermont.

ACT-UP Philadelphia, Prevention Point, Angels in Motion, and other community groups called for supervised injection facilities to reduce the health and social harms of drug use, and they found support with city officials. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney formed the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic, which sent a delegation to the cities of Vancouver, British Columbia to study InSight, North America’s first sanctioned supervised injection facility site, which has been in operation for over ten years, and Seattle, Washington, where the city is in its planning stages.

In the city of Philadelphia’s plan, “Comprehensive User Engagement Sites” would be facilitated by the city in order to connect people with substance use treatment and ancillary services, but the sites themselves would be operated and funded by the private sector. The City counts its newly sworn in District Attorney Larry Krasner as a supporter, and Richard Ross, their police commissioner, has gone from “adamantly against” any injection facility to having an open mind.

There are still hurdles to clear. City Council may still block the implementation of such a site. The announcement faces resistance from Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, whose district includes most of Kensington (the area considered the heart of Philadelphia’s overdose crisis). Quiñones-Sánchez now says she welcomes a process for engaging with stakeholders, but has not said she has dropped her potential opposition. Elsewhere, Vermont legislators’ efforts to open a safer injection facility were foiled by U.S. Attorney Christina E. Nolan, who threatened criminal charges and seizure of assets, experts involved in Philadelphia’s plan say such threats should not impede the City’s progress.

In July of 2016, the AIDS United Public Policy Committee, the largest and longest-running national coalition of community-based HIV/AIDS organizations, called for the local implementation of supervised injection facilities as part of a comprehensive public health approach to reduce overdose deaths, prevent the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C and improve quality of life among people who inject drugs. We applaud the efforts of ACT-UP Philadelphia, Prevention Point, Angels in Motion, the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic, and other community supporters in advancing toward the implementation of a sanctioned safer injection facility in Philadelphia.

“Support for SIFs is growing, including the organization representing public health officials, which just released its Call to Action: Supervised Injection Facilities.”

 

 

 

Honoring National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

 

 

The Fight Is Not Over: Celebrating and Honoring National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

HIV/AIDS remains a significant problem and continues to disproportionately impact the African diaspora. Black people living in US southern states – those infamous localities for the involuntary servitude of Africans, the lynching of Black bodies, and Jim Crow laws restricting Black opportunity and advancement – make up 44% of people living with HIV and 54% of those newly infected. When the President of the United States (allegedly) labels the ancestral homes of Black people as “shit-hole countries” and declares that all Haitians “have AIDS,” the directive of the 2018 NBHAAD theme is clear: “Stay the Course, the Fight is Not Over!”

HIV Prevention and Treatment as a Right for Black People and Others

Throughout the US, there has been greater attention placed on the lived experiences of African Americans, Afro-Latinos and other Africans living in the United states, especially in our pursuits of justice related to police violence and interactions; educational and workforce opportunities; access to health care; and citizenship. Our organizing and mobilization with Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March and the March for Science allows us to publicly speak against these injustices and nurture efforts that assert HIV prevention and treatment as a right.

Expanding the Fight

In fact, all HIV/AIDS, civil rights, and justice organizations must assert that Black people have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, along with living HIV free. This requires a collective will that is able to recognize root injustices and engage in sustained dialogue and actions that interrupt the status quo. No longer can this fight be viewed as the sole responsibility of local health departments, community organizations and people living with HIV. Public and private schools, religious institutions, business leaders and other influencers must learn, promote, and, if applicable, use the latest advancements in HIV prevention and treatment, including PrEP for HIV-negative individuals and the gospel of Undetectable = Untransmittable. Highlighting individuals and organizations operating in these spaces of engagement will help inform cross-sector partnerships that equip communities with the tools and resources to do this work effectively and efficiently.

Nurture the Frontline

As with any campaign for justice, it is important to nurture those individuals and organizations on the frontline – including those living with HIV, those in communities disproportionately affected by it, and those organizations that use their resources to fight against it.  By keeping these individuals and organizations healthy, they are in ready-position to provide support. National organizations can set an example for local organizations by addressing racial and gender equity and developing campaigns that identify and highlight the needs of front line staff workers – whether it is guidance for employers to maximize employee assistance benefits, saving and investing in retirement accounts, or ensuring avenues for skill development in transferrable areas (e.g. medical coding, data collection, or phlebotomy). Black unemployment, especially when compared to White unemployment, is unacceptably high.

Measure our Performance

Knowing if our efforts are making a difference is important for designing strategies to end HIV and promote justice in Black communities. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) offers a data-guided approach for key actions and measuring impact in the local and national context. The NHAS milestones and indicators can also inspire our tracking of other indicators and data points that describe mobilization efforts, membership dynamics, and engagement around policy. By participating in these activities, we are better able to identify collective approaches that successfully work in Black communities. Occupying this space also allows UCHAPS and others to sustain their operations, resources and passion to do even more.

Stay the Course, the Fight is Not Over

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week, which is now celebrated throughout the entire month of February (and yearly for some). It’s a reminder of the great contributions and struggles faced by Black people in the US and throughout the world. Similarly, NBHAAD provides an opportunity to unite our contemporary fight against HIV within this rich historical legacy for recognition, freedom and liberation. Today, UCHAPS encourages everyone to expand the fight, nurture the frontline and measure our performance to help end HIV, protect Dreamers and DACA, fight against police brutality, create Black wealth, and achieve political liberation.

Stay the course. The fight is not over.

Phil Wilson Announce Retirement founder of Black AIDS Institute!

Black AIDS Institute Launches Bold Vision for the Future: Announces Retirement of Longtime Leader Phill Wilson, New Board Members, New Staff, New Partnerships, New Programs

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Posted in: News, News 2018

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Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of a new strategic plan to prepare for the next generation of Black HIV/AIDS response, the Black AIDS Institute is announcing several changes within the organization, including the retirement of its longtime president and CEO, Phill Wilson, later this year.

Wilson launched the Black AIDS Institute in 1999 with a clear mantra (“Our People, Our Problem, Our Solution”) and mission: to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black leaders, institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view.

“In order for a movement to endure, there must be a plan for the future,” said Wilson in a statement. “Stepping down as the president and CEO of the Institute, where I have had the privilege of serving for the last 19 years, is bittersweet for me. I have been involved in this fight for almost my entire adult life.

“In 1983, when I started doing this work, none of us could have imagined this mysterious new disease, first identified at UCLA Medical Center, would become the defining health issue of our generation. We are at a turning point. Are we going to build on the remarkable advances we have made over the last decade and continue to push forward and finally end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, or are we going to go back to the dark days of despair and death?

“The Institute is committed to doing everything in its power to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially in Black communities. The time is right. The organization has the infrastructure and capacity to do the changes set forth by the board to prepare for a new generation of capacity building, advocacy, mobilization and service delivery. I am very proud of the work we have done over the last 19 years and of the organization’s commitment to new leadership. That commitment is more important now than ever before.”

Pursuing new executive leadership is part of a larger effort on the part of the Institute to prepare for the next generation of HIV/AIDS response in Black communities.

Ahead of the Curve

From the African American HIV University and Black Treatment Advocates Network to the groundbreaking “State of AIDS in Black America” reports and acknowledgments of Black excellence at the annual Heroes in the Struggle Gala Reception and Awards Celebration, the Institute has been relentless in its focus on Black communities.

The organization enlisted traditional Black institutions—such as the NAACP, Black fraternities and sororities, Black journalists in mainstream media and Black-owned publications—to commit to raising awareness, fighting stigma, increasing HIV/AIDS literacy and mobilizing Black people. It launched the Black Hollywood Task Force on HIV—currently co-chaired by Jussie Smollett, star of the Fox musical drama Empire, and veteran actress and humanitarian Vanessa Williams—to leverage the power of celebrity to amplify messages about prevention, testing, treatment and ending stigma.

“We have always been ahead of the curve in understanding HIV/AIDS and how it relates to the Black community,” says Institute board chair Grazell Howard. “This change is a continuation of that legacy. The search for new executive leadership is a part of a new strategic plan. We have brought on new board members like former Rep. Donna M. Christensen, Dr. David Cook, David Munar and Gina Brown to help us expand our policy work, expand our clinical services and add Black-women programs. We’ve also re-energized our Black Hollywood Task Force on AIDS with new ambassadors and supporters like Ledisi, Karamo Brown, Taraji P. Henson, Alfre Woodard and Van Jones.”

Munar, president and CEO of the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago, says, “Almost every milestone in the fight against AIDS domestically and, in some cases, internationally has been paved by the Black AIDS Institute, and that’s a credit to the Institute and its many supporters and affiliates across the country.”

Codifying Wilson’s Vision

Wilson leaves the Institute well positioned to take on the challenges of future.

The organization is staffed by the next generation of HIV/AIDS activists and organizers, whose work embodies the Institute’s commitment to helping Black communities save themselves through their lived experience. “Every day is Black AIDS Awareness Day at the Black AIDS Institute,” says Raniyah Copeland, the Institute’s director of programs. “Our staff are of the communities we serve. We are Black men and women. We are Black people living with HIV/AIDS or at high risk of infection. We live, work, pray and play in the communities we serve. We don’t need to do ‘outreach’ because we are there 24-7.”

The Institute recently brought on new staff members to strengthen its capacity, like Maxx Boykin (previously with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago), to work on a new advocacy-and-policy initiative; Maya Merriweather, to work on mobilization; and Saron Selassie, to strengthen the Institute’s monitoring and evaluation work. On World AIDS Day 2017, the Institute launched a new website and a redesigned Black AIDS Weekly, the organization’s electronic newsletter, to more effectively reach people who use smartphones to access health information.

Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United and chair emeritus of the Institute’s board, notes that the Institute has also been developing programs to help end the epidemic through its Los Angeles-based direct-service efforts. On this Feb. 7, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Institute, in partnership with St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, a federally qualified community-health center in Los Angeles, will launch the first Black PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) clinic in Los Angeles. Later this spring, the partnership will open a Black men’s primary care clinic in the Leimert Park area of L.A. A Black gay men’s drop-in center will launch in Compton during the fall. “The PrEP clinic, the men’s primary care clinic and the Black gay men’s drop-in center will help us achieve a new dimension of our mission,” says Milan.

“We are proud to build on Phill’s bold and unapologetic legacy through direct service, new policy, initiatives to address Black women and HIV, and other efforts that will codify Phill’s vision of ending AIDS,” Copeland says.

Rather than resting on past successes, the Black AIDS Institute is “going where the epidemic’s trajectory is calling it to go,” says Munar, who calls the new initiatives “excellent examples” of how the organization is transforming in ways that will allow it to thrive without Wilson at the helm. “It’s exactly what every community needs to be doing. The Institute wants to do it first in its own backyard, then help others across the country replicate similar strategies.”

“Such approaches are particularly important in the South,” National Capacity Building Manager Leisha McKinley-Beach says. “The Institute has become one of the driving force for ending the AIDS epidemic in America due in part to its work in Southern states, where most Blacks live, and awareness-raising about what’s happening there. We have been on the front line of training and capacity building in the South. I am particularly excited that we are going to be housing our policy and advocacy work in the South, and looking forward to having Max join me in Atlanta.”

“We can’t achieve our goals in the HIV/AIDS epidemic nationally unless we work harder in the South to reduce new infections, bring more people into care, and eliminate stigma and discrimination,” says Milan. “The statistics and reality in the South are dire, especially for African Americans, and we must focus on them now.”

Passing the Mantle

“For those of us who have been doing the work and standing with Phill shoulder to shoulder for many years, it will be hard to imagine this work without him,” Munar says. “But this transition is not about Phill Wilson; it’s really about a mission, a vision, a commitment to mobilize a community, to leverage influence wherever we can, to eliminate AIDS and make this world a better place for people who are affected by HIV.”

“It is with great pride and role modeling that the Black AIDS Institute shows that you can have an organization that can grow a budget; have a vibrant and fully engaged board of directors; and be founded by a brilliant, courageous, creative man who knows when it is time to pass the mantle,” Howard says.

“This is an important moment,” Munar says. “Phill is passing the baton on to a newer generation. He’s leaving the organization on a strong footing so that it can continue to march forward.”

Freddie Allen is editor-in-chief of the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Allen is also a frequent contributor to the Black AIDS Weekly. You can follow him on

Cuts that Hurt: What the President’s FY18 Budget Proposal Means for HIV services and people of color

 

 

 

 

 

President Trump’s FY18 budget proposal included several cuts that would directly impact people of color (POC) living with or vulnerable to HIV. It is important to remember that the President’s budget recommendations are only the start of the budget process. Congress makes the final decision on funding for the government.

YOU CAN HELP: It is very important that our elected officials hear from us to save our services for HIV prevention and care. Please join us for this year’s HIV/STD Action Day on September 6 2017, the day before the start of the 2017 United States Conference on AIDS, and speak to your Member of Congress directly or organize an effort in your own local district.

Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF)

The President’s FY18 budget request eliminates funding at this critical time in the SMAIF’s existence. Each year, the SMAIF provides over $50 million to support a wide range of activities designed to support communities of color (including, but, not limited to projects that: (1) get and keep people of color in care; (2) build leadership among people of color at the local level who are either living with or affected by HIV, and (3) address Hepatitis C in those living with HIV).

  • POC  IMPACT:  The  proposed  elimination  of  the  SMAIF  would  remove  a  key  resource  that promotes innovative and cost-­effective programs specifically tailored for communities of color and that influence HIV related programs across the entire Department of Health and Human Services.

Cuts to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program will
↑ Increase health inequities
↓ Reduce support services for persons living with HIV

Although  praised  by  the  Administration,  the  President’s  FY18  budget  request  decreases funding for the Ryan White program by $59 million (eliminating funding for  the  AIDS  Education  and  Training  Centers  (AETC)  which  train  medical  professional and Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) programs).

  • POC IMPACT: The proposed cuts to the AETCs will reduce access to important training programs that help the healthcare workforce prepare to meet the needs of clients seeking HIV-related services – particularly, people of color.
  • POC IMPACT: The proposed cuts to the SPNS will stall: (1) evaluation of treatment models; (2) dissemination and replication of successful interventions; (3) capacity-­building in the health information technology systems of the Ryan White program.

Cuts to HIV Prevention will likely cause
Community-­Based Organizations (CBOs) near you to lose funding or close
+30,000 more Americans will become HIV-­positive
‐ 1,000,000 fewer HIV tests will be performed

The President’s FY18 budget request reduces the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Tuberculosis by $186.1 million. The proposed cuts to CDC would scale-­down local HIV prevention activities  that  have  just  started  to  reach  communities  of  color,  including  support  for  pre-­exposure  prophylaxis (PrEP) as well as efforts around treatment as prevention which would deeply harm the communities most vulnerable to HIV.

  • POC IMPACT: The proposed cuts to CDC threaten the existence of CBOs as cuts to their HIV prevention funding would greatly reduce services including testing, linkage services, prevention campaigns, and health education programs. Thousands more people will be unaware of their HIV status and those who need care will not be linked to life‐sustaining services.

Cuts to Medicaid will likely cause Millions to lose their Medicaid Coverage

The President’s FY18 budget request cuts $610 billion (over 10 years) to this joint federal/state program that provides healthcare services for people with limited income and resources. Medicaid remains one of the largest payers of insurance for people living with HIV.

  • The proposed cuts to Medicaid would especially impact communities of color and put their health and well-­being at-­risk since they will lose their access to HIV prevention and treatment services.

Cuts to National Institutes of Health (NIH) will Adversely impact the Office of AIDS Research (OAR)

The President’s FY18 budget request reduces funding by nearly $5.8 million. Such a large cut would likely harm researchers’ ability to find new prevention strategies and to make sure treatment options meet the needs of those on treatment.

  • POC IMPACT: The President’s FY18 budget request proposes the elimination of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). With an emphasis on health disparities experienced by persons of color when they access healthcare services, AHRQ produces the annual National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report as well as periodic updates on the National Quality Strategy.
  • POC IMPACT: The proposed cuts to NIH greatly undermine current long­‐term research on HIV vaccines and the hunt for a cure for HIV. Both Black and Latinos continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and in need of HIV-­related services.

Cuts to the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program will likely cause more than 33,000 homeless People Living with HIV (PLWH) to lose housing support services

Despite being praised by the Administration, the President’s FY18 budget request proposes cutting HOPWA by approximately $26 million dollars.

  • POC IMPACT: The proposed cuts to HOPWA would reduce funding to below FY16 levels (although the 2016 levels were deemed inadequate and the HOPWA formula was updated by the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA) in 2016).
  • POC IMPACT: The proposed cuts to HOPWA would reduce funding to below FY16 levels (although the 2016 levels were deemed inadequate and the HOPWA formula was updated by the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA) in 2016). Several thousand fewer homes will be available for homeless or housing unstable PLWH.

Cuts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will
‐ Reduce the SAMHSA Minority AIDS Initiative Funds by $17.7 million

The President’s FY18 budget request decreases SAMHSA funding by $374 million.

  • POC IMPACT: The proposed cuts to SAMHSA would directly impact communities of color since, in 2015, 65% of those who identified injection drug use as the mode of HIV transmission were people of color.
    • Specifically, the SAMHSA Minority AIDS Initiative Funds will reduce the resources available for substance use-­related HIV prevention and treatment programs focused on engaging people of color.

GOOD NEWS→

The President’s FY18 budget proposal is just a recommendation to Congress and only the first step in the Federal Budget Process:

Step 1: The President’s Budget Request

  • The President submits a detailed budget request for the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1.

Step 2: The Congressional Budget Resolution

  • Congress usually holds hearings to question Administration officials about federal agency funding requests
  • Congress usually holds hearings to question Administration officials about federal agency funding requests
  • The federal House and Senate Budget Committees then develops its own budget resolution (which are supposed to be filed by April 15th)
  • The full House and Senate then vote on its own budget plan (only a majority vote is required to pass)

Step 3: Enacting Budget Legislation

  • The federal House and Senate Appropriations Committees determine program-­by-­program funding levels in 12 separate bills
  • The federal House and Senate Appropriations Committees determine program-­by-­program funding levels in 12 separate bills
  • Most HIV related programing is determined in the Labor­-Health and Human Services­-Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill

TAKE HOME MESSAGE→ The final distribution of funds is ENTIRELY in the hands of Congress

END THE EPIDEMIC / DIGITAL

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