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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.

HIV and Our Youth

KEY FINDINGS

1. HIV hits close to home for many young people of color.

Due to a combination of social inequities and where the disease initially took hold, HIV has disproportionately affected Black and Latino populations. The uneven impact of HIV is reflected in the starkly differing views and experiences reported by those of different races.

About three times as many Blacks and Latinos, as whites, say HIV today is a “very serious” issue for people they know.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: How serious of a concern is HIV for people you know?

Almost twice as many Blacks, as whites or Latinos, say they know someone living with or who has died of HIV. One in five Blacks have a family member or close friend affected by HIV.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 15

About a third of Black and Latino young people say they worry about getting HIV; approximately half as many whites express concern about their own risk.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 16

2. Many are not aware of advances in HIV prevention and treatment.

In the five years since PrEP, the pill to protect against HIV, was approved by the Food & Drug Administration, only about one in ten young adults know about the prevention option.

When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective in protecting against HIV. PrEP is also a significant advance in that it provides women with the first HIV prevention tool that they can control themselves.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 17

There are also gaps in understanding of how the medications used to treat HIV work. While most young adults are generally aware of the health benefits of antiretrovirals (or ARVs), many understate their effectiveness and few know they also prevent the spread of the virus.

ARVs work to reduce the viral load to levels undetectable by standard lab tests. Studies show that when the viral load is less than 200 copies of virus per milliliter of blood, long-term health is greatly improved and sexual transmission of the virus is extremely unlikely, if not impossible.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: How effective are current HIV treatment options

3. Stigma and misperceptions about HIV persist.

Most young people today say they would be comfortable having people with HIV as friends or work colleagues, but when it comes to other situations, the stigma of the disease is evident.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: How comfortable would you be

Providing insight into what may be behind the stigma, the survey also reveals a lack of understanding among some about how HIV is and is not transmitted.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 20

4. HIV testing is occurring less than generally recommended. 

The CDC recommends HIV testing as part of routine health care, yet more than half of young adults say they have never been tested.

Black young adults are more likely – and more recently – to report having gotten an HIV test.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: Have you ever been tested for HIV

5. The Internet is a go-to resource for HIV information.

After school, searching online is one of the most often named sources of HIV information by young adults (multiple responses possible). Almost as many cite some form of media as doctors for at least “some” information.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: How much information about HIV have you gotten from

Four in ten say they would like more information about at least one basic HIV topic asked about. More Black and Latino young people indicate they want to know more about HIV, across all topics, as compared to whites.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 24

National Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

HIV.gov Shares Communication Tools for Gay

2018 United States Conference on AIDS

 

 

June 12th has been designated as Orlando United Day.  On this day, we remember the 49 angels who were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. This was a deliberate attack on the LGBT community that must never be forgotten.

To show our support for Orlando and the LGBT community, NMAC is pleased to announce that we will hold the 2018 United States Conference on AIDS in Orlando on September 6-9, 2018.  Please save the date.

The 2018 meeting will highlight the contributions made by the LGBT community to our efforts in ending the epidemic.  Our community has suffered so many losses and we must stand together.

The 49 beautiful portraits in this e-newsletter were created by 49 different artists across the country.  Each portrait portrays someone who was killed in the Pulse shootings.  They are all on exhibit at the Terrace Gallery at Orlando City Hall from May 1 – June 14, 2017.

Yours in the struggle,

Board & Staff of NMAC
Stronger Together!

AIDS United Responds to Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bil

 

AIDS United acknowledges that the Fiscal Year 2017 omnibus appropriations bill, released last night, provides continuity of HIV funding for most domestic programs. This is an important development for maintaining our progress towards the national goals and priorities of reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

While most HIV programs will see level funding in the budget, AIDS United is concerned that a $4 million cut to Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part C clinical providers and a $5 million cut affecting the budget to fight sexually transmitted infections will diminish our response to HIV and health care, particularly given the increasing cases of sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, among men who have sex with men.

“Knowing that Congress plans to keep funding intact for most HIV efforts is reassuring, but we urge Congress to also ensure that Part C clinical providers and our response to sexually transmitted infections are fully funded,” said AIDS United President & CEO Jesse Milan, Jr.

AIDS United is particularly appreciative that Congress listened to the voices of people living with and affected by HIV in increasing funding for the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program by $21 million. “Housing is fundamental to ensuring that people living with HIV live longer and healthier lives and we thank Congress for recognizing the importance of this program by securing its current stability,” said Milan.


About AIDS United: AIDS United’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., through strategic grant-making, capacity building, formative research and policy. AIDS United works to ensure access to life-saving HIV/AIDS care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV/AIDS-related policy for U.S. populations and communities most impacted by the epidemic. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $104 million to local communities, and have leveraged more than $117 million in additional investments for programs that include, but are not limited to HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction and advocacy. aidsunited.org

Repeal Without Replace: Senate Starts Undoing Obamacare With No Replacement

In the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, the Senate took the important first step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act, narrowly approving a budget resolution that lays the groundwork for the undoing of much of President Obama’s signature health care law. The 51-48 vote fell almost entirely along party lines, with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) being the only Republican to vote against the resolution and no Democrats voting for it. Having passed in the Senate, the budget resolution has been transferred over to the House where it could be voted on as early as this Friday or later, depending on how successful Speaker Ryan is at bringing together an often-fractured House GOP.

If the House passes the Senate resolution, reconciliation instructions will be sent out to the Senate Finance Committee; the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; and to the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees. These instructions are designed to get the committees to report legislation that would reduce the federal deficit by at least $1 billion over the next decade. In practice the legislation will be used to repeal certain aspects of the ACA with only a 51-vote majority in the Senate and without having to face the risk of being filibustered by Democrats. This means that the GOP will be able to repeal major provisions of the ACA that affect the federal budget and will have to introduce other legislation to repeal the other provisions, including those that reform health insurance practices.
For people living with or at risk of contracting HIV, the changes that could be made through this reconciliation process will be immense and potentially deadly. Through reconciliation, Congress will be able to repeal the individual mandate to buy coverage, take away the ACA’s insurance premium subsidies and, perhaps worst of all, roll back Medicaid expansion. Medicaid is the single largest source of insurance coverage for people living with HIV, covering more than 40% of all people with HIV who are in care. Add to that the fact that Medicaid expansion by itself was responsible for putting an addition 14 million Americans on health insurance, and it is not hard to understand just how much of an impact this reconciliation process could have on the HIV community.

The Senate vote on the budget resolution was the climax of nearly 7 hours of rapid-fire voting known as “vote-a-rama”, a tradition whereby Senators—in this case, mostly Democrats—are allowed to propose roll call votes on amendments to a budget resolution in quick succession with the aim of getting their colleagues on the record with votes concerning politically volatile issues. On Wednesday night, Democrats put forth a number of amendments regarding some of the popular aspects of Obamacare as both an act of defiance and a way to put pro-repeal Senators on-the-record for the elimination of well received ACA provisions.

For their part, Republicans in the Senate chose in most instances to vote as a unified block even when such a vote went against the wishes of their constituencies. Over the course of the evening, the Senate rejected 19 different amendments along party lines, many of which would have served to protect access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Of particular interest to people living with or at risk for contracting HIV were amendments put forth by Senate Democrats aimed at preventing health insurers from discriminating against people based on pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, prohibiting insurers from denying health insurance or raising rates on women because of their gender, and not making any cuts to Medicaid funding. None of these amendments were accepted, but they did provide good indication of what aspects of the ACA would be vulnerable under a full ACA repeal.

Perhaps the most important vote of the night—aside from the final approval of the budget resolution—was one that didn’t happen at all. An amendment put forth by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and four other GOP Senators that would have extended the January 27th deadline to come up with repeal legislation by an additional 5 weeks was withdrawn late on Wednesday night. The amendment was initially brought up by Senator Corker and some of his Republican colleagues in light of legitimate fears that their party would not have a replacement plan in place when they repealed the ACA. And, while nothing happened over the course of the evening that would have given Senator Corker and his amendment’s supporters reason to believe a replacement plan was any nearer than before, they would all go on to vote in favor of the budget resolution at the end of the night, continuing down a path of repeal without replacement.

Most of America had long since gone to sleep and likely won’t remember when or exactly how it happened, but history with certainly note that, if the Affordable Care Act is indeed dismantled, that Congress began to do so when no one was watching.

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