“A Clear and Unyielding Commitment”

February 15, 2011 in Policy/Advocacy

President Obama Unveils 2012 Budget

donna_crews1_cropped_webBy Donna Crews, Director, Government Affairs
AIDS United

President Barack Obama submitted his third budget to Congress on Monday, February 14th .  The entire budget was $3.7 trillion with $79.9 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (where the bulk of the HIV domestic portfolio is kept).  In these austere budget times the HIV/AIDS domestic funding portfolio fared well.  At HHS where the discretionary portion of the budget decreased by $72 million, or 0.9 % President Obama showed his commitment to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the domestic HIV/AIDS funding portfolio by increasing funding for HIV/AIDS programs at HHS, and Veterans Affairs, and maintaining level funding for HIV/AIDS programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HOPWA received $335 million, and the Department of Justice.  In this overall budgetary spending environment the increases that were announced in the FY12 President’s Budget shows his clear and unyielding commitment.

At HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) HIV prevention funding was increased by nearly $58 million for a total investment of $858 million in FY12.  Of the $58 million increase, $30 million is an investment from the Prevention and Public Health Fund from the Affordable Care Act.  The prevention program that has garnered wide interest and support, Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning (ECHPP) received $10 million in new funding for a total of $22 million.  This project targets the 12 most highly impacted jurisdictions based on AIDS prevalence in 2007.  To ensure better coordination of the HIV prevention messages with existing STD programs for young people, $40 million of the HIV portion of the school health program in the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program has been transferred to the National Center for HIV, STD, Viral Hepatitis and TB Prevention.

At HHS’ Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) the Ryan White Program received an increase of a little more than $88 million for a total of $2.376 million.  Due to varied rounding math, in some publications of the budget it appeared to receive $85 million; however the more detailed Congressional Budget Justification for each HRSA verified the $88 million.  Again due to rounding, some documents show ADAP’s increase as $80 million, though our analysis shows it at $82 million.  The breakdown is as follows:

Part A + $1 million

Part B base flat

Part B ADAP +$82 million

Part C +$5 million

Part D +$.166 million

Part F AETC +$.074 million

Part F Dental +$.029 million

At HHS’ National Institutes of Health (NIH) the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) has received a $74 million increase for the HIV/AIDS research portfolio. HIV funding at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration were flat at $178 million for FY12. Title X programs such as Planned Parenthood where many HIV tests are preformed received an $11 million increase.  Abstinence only programs were not funded again this year.  The teen pregnancy prevention initiative received flat funding of $114.5 million.  New in the budget this year is a provision to provide the Secretary of HHS access to no more than 1% of all discretionary funds for FY12 appropriated to the domestic HIV/AIDS activities, programs, and projects to support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  According to the FY 2010 funding levels in HHS’s just released “HHS Operational Plan: Achieving the Vision of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy,” this funding would be 1% of $6.5 billion.

Remembering his Dream

February 14, 2011 in AmeriCorps

January 17, 2011 was a day Team Indianapolis considered to be more than service! We looked at the Day as an honor to partake in, and came in knowing any service we did could not amount to the remarkable body of work Martin Luther King Jr. has implemented.

This year’s team thought there was no better way to show respect to the day by working together with another AmeriCorps team. We decided to join forces with Public Allies to help clean Indianapolis’s Earth House! The experience, a humbling one, brought together people of all types to come together for a common purpose. We scrubbed floors, clean toilets, moved furniture, vacuumed carpets, and all while getting to know members from another team.

As the day went on, our team discovered/realized something impressive. Even through all the strenuous labor we were doing we should all be thankful for such an opportunity. It’s hard to actually grasp the fact that almost sixty years ago one of the greatest legal cases of all time took place (Brown vs. Board of Education), making it possible for blacks and whites to receive the same education.  Or that in 1960 four students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University proposed a sit in after being denied service at a local diner. Although there is still work to be done in our communities, our team realized that our day of service makes great strides.

After our team helped to clean the Earth House we viewed the documentary “Traces of the Trade” with Public Allies. The film was enlightening and definitely a conversation starter. Team Indy has always been proud to be a part of AmeriCorps but even more so on this day! All members that participated in the clean up wore a shirt with King’s face made up of his powerful words that represented unity and empowerment for Team Indianapolis. Although our day ended at 4:00pm, we know there is a nonviolent fight to be done to reach total social justice!

A New Journey Begins In the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

February 10, 2011 in President's Message

by Mark Ishaug, President and CEO
AIDS United

Dear Friends:

I am thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to lead AIDS United, and I am so looking forward to working closely with you and all of our partners and stakeholders to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America.

What an exciting and challenging time to begin this journey. The creation of AIDS United through the merger of the National AIDS Fund and AIDS Action has provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to add velocity and impact to the important work that we, as organizations and as individuals, have been doing for nearly three decades. And I promise you I’ll do whatever it takes to raise money and awareness to improve the lives of people living with HIV and help bring an end to this pandemic. I’ll sing, dance, and golf. I’ll take to the Hill and I’ll take to the Plains. And I’ll complete this year alone a 100-mile bike ride, a triathlon and marathon.

And speaking of marathons…

Last week we launched Team to End AIDS (T2)! T2 is a new endurance training and fundraising program for all levels of athletes that includes marathon and half marathon coaching. T2 will support the life-saving work of AIDS United and the Washington AIDS Partnership by helping to raise funds to support programs and services that change lives in the District of Columbia and around the country. We developed T2 at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago in 2009 and achieved INCREDIBLE success in the program’s first year. We have every expectation of great success in DC, too, especially with DC’s active running and HIV/AIDS communities! You can read more about T2 in this newsletter, , or by clicking here, and you can REGISTER for T2 today at www.T2EA.com.

But that’s not the only important announcement that we have recently made.  AIDS United just announced the 10 new grantees of our game-changing Access to Care (A2C) initiative, supported by a grant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). These grants will help build the capacity to develop and implement targeted, innovative programs to improve individual health outcomes and strengthen local service systems, and connect thousands of low-income and marginalized individuals living with HIV to high quality supportive services and health care. A2C also is helping to contribute to the successful implementation of the “Increasing Access to Care” pillar of National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) released in July by the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP).

In addition to these life-changing and life-saving programs, AIDS United will continue its critical strategic grantmaking and public policy work!  With partners throughout the country, we are developing our regional advocacy networks to help mobilize our communities at the state and local levels about HIV/AIDS policy that impacts the lives of those we serve.  We’ll be taking on issues like health care reform, appropriations of HIV funding, and syringe access head on, while we make investments in communities most affected by HIV/AIDS, including the South, communities of color, women and girls, men who have sex with men (MSM) and youth.

I am truly excited to bring my experiences and relationships to AIDS United as we reinvigorate the fight against HIV/AIDS as we have never done before. Won’t you join us as our partners on this important journey?  You can support AIDS United by making  a donation today!  Together, we will work tirelessly for our mission to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America.

Yours,

Mark Ishaug
President/CEO
AIDS United

MLK Day in Tulsa

in AmeriCorps

On January 17, 2011, Team Tulsa celebrated Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday with a Day of Service. As is tradition with Team Tulsa, we worked the annual MLK parade. Frank Rieder, a state AmeriCorps member serving at the Community Service Council of Tulsa,  joined us in our service.

Frank

We arrived at 7am and we immediately took up the slack of judges who didn’t show up. Parade organizers selected Paige to judge parade floats, while Danielle and Kacie judged the drill teams. Carolyn and Frank helped with odd jobs throughout the staging area. Our original duties were to help guide the buses and teams into their starting positions, but most people seemed to be seasoned veterans of the parade and knew their places immediately.

Paige

After judging, we were assigned to keep the parade route clear, allowing the news cameras to get a clear view of the beginning of the parade. With the parade scheduled to start at 11am, people began filtering in around 10am. By the time it began, the sidewalks were filled with people of all ages, even though the temperature hovered right at the freezing mark.

The five of us and Frank then sat and watched the parade. We noticed the sense of community between the people in the parade and the spectators. Almost everyone knew someone either in or at the parade. HOPE Testing Clinic and Tulsa CARES, an organization that helps those living with HIV/AIDS, had a float in the parade, and former Team Tulsa member, Sam Young walked with them. Heather Nash, another former member of Team Tulsa, represented Guiding Right, a testing center that targets the African-American population, in the parade.

The location of the parade held a special significance. This year, the parade had changed its route. Instead of going north from OSU-Tulsa, the parade headed south down Greenwood Ave., part of the historic Greenwood District that had been destroyed by the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.

Overall, we enjoyed being part of such an historic event, and one that is so loved and respected in the Tulsa community. The organizers appreciated being able to rely on Team Tulsa to do anything necessary for the parade.

It Takes a Village to Fight HIV/AIDS!

February 7, 2011 in Policy/Advocacy

AIDS United Observes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2011

by Ronald Johnson
AIDS United Vice President of Policy & Advocacy

Vice President, AIDS United recognizes the 11th annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7, 2011.  We keep in our memory the many thousands of black Americans, who have died as a result of AIDS.  We honor black Americans who are living with HIV/AIDS and we reach out to black Americans who are vulnerable to HIV infection.

The theme of this year’s awareness day is “It Takes a Village to Fight HIV/AIDS!”  This theme especially resonates as we approach, on June 5, the 30th year of the recognized HIV/AIDS epidemic here in the United States and worldwide.  In 2011, we continue to face the toll of HIV and AIDS on communities of color, especially African American communities.  By nearly every measure, black children, women, and men are the Americans most disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS.

As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the end of 2007 black people accounted for nearly half, 46%,  of people living with a diagnosis of HIV in the 37 states and 5 dependent areas with long-term name-based HIV reporting.  In 2006, 45% of the estimated new cases of HIV infection were among black people.  The rate of new HIV infections among black women is almost 15 times as high as the rate among white women and nearly 4 times that of Hispanic women.  From 2001-2006, new HIV diagnoses among young black men who have sex with men (MSM) aged 13-24 in 33 states increased by 93%, a pace that should be alarming and disturbing to everyone.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day has a particular focus on community mobilization to increase HIV testing and treatment.  HIV prevention is still critical and in 2010 we saw further advances that demonstrate the linkage among testing, treatment and prevention.  Transmission of HIV is driven to a large degree by people who do not know that they are infected.  Voluntary HIV testing and counseling must be scaled up to decrease the number of black Americans who do not know their HIV status.  There is solid evidence that when people know that they are infected with HIV, they take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and to protect others from transmission, included getting into care and treatment.  Recent research findings are showing the efficacy of treatment as prevention, as the recent findings from the iPrEx study and the CAPRISA 004 microbicide study demonstrate.

While the “toolbox” of demonstrated HIV prevention initiatives expands, the lynchpin of stopping  the spread of new HIV infections remains the development of a safe and effective HIV vaccine.  Black Americans have a clear stake in HIV vaccine research.  Awareness of and support for clinical trials to test potential vaccines, such as the HVTN 505 study that targets MSM, should increase among black Americans.  Myths about and distrust of HIV vaccine research, and fears about vaccines generally, should be addressed and discussed openly.

It will take a village to fight HIV/AIDS among black Americans.  The good news is that this is not new.  Black history, which we also highlight and celebrate this month, shows that collective hope and action dispels despair.  The administration of America’s first black President has developed and is implementing the country’s first targeted and measurable National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  Today we take special notice of HIV/AIDS among black Americans.  But ending the epidemic is something we all can achieve by working together.  Increasing testing, getting every HIV positive person into care, and expanding HIV prevention can be done.  It just takes all of us villagers to be involved.

Summary of the 41st Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Meeting

February 1, 2011 in Policy/Advocacy

By Donna Crews, Director of Government Affairs
AIDS United

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) met on January 27th & 28th in Washington, D.C.  AIDS United Board member Douglas Brooks is a PACHA member and was in attendance, and AIDS United Vice President of External Affairs Victor Barnes offered public comments on day two of the meeting.

Following opening remarks by Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHAS) and Jeffrey Crowley Director of the White House Office of National HIV/AIDS Policy (ONAP), Crowley provided an update on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the public release of the NHAS operational plans. Crowley also indicated that ONAP will be publishing the first NHAS annual report, which will be less a “federal report” and more a “nation’s reponse” to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic.  Crowley expressed ONAP’s host for positive results from the 12-city coordination model of DHHS agencies in the highest impacted jurisdictions accounting for 44% of the HIV epidemic.

Operational plan updates

Office of HIV/AIDS Housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

David Vos, Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) explained that HUD’s operational plan focused on Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) while developing ways to bring the HIV epidemic into other parts of HUDs work, especially the homeless division of the agency.  Homelessness is a known risk factor for HIV.

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Maggie Czarnogorski, Deputy Director National Clinical Public Health Program at Veterans Affairs (VA) explained that the VA is the largest single provider of HIV care in the country,  treating over 24,000 veterans.  The agency uses (electronic?) medical records and confirms that:

  • 95% of their HIV positive patients/clients are linked to care within 90 days of diagnosis
  • 91% of those eligible to be on medication are receiving HIV medication; and
  • 84% of patients/clients are virally suppressed.
  • With its detailed client level data, the VA is also able to determine that 60% of the HIV positive veterans are over 55 years old, 80 HIV positive veterans are over eighty years old.

Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)

Chris Bina, Director of the Pharmacy Program at Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Department of Justice (DOJ) emphasized that prison health is public health.  There is a 1.6% HIV prevalence rate in the federal prison system.  HIV testing is offered to all inmates at their first physical and is mandatory for those prisoners who are “at risk”.  BOP works with the VA to evaluate inmates’ CD4 count and viral load data.  BOP is working to increase the number of re-entry coordinators to assist ex-offenders connection to care and treatment after release from prison. Released inmates are given a 30 day supply of medication.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Civl Rights Division

David Knight of  DOJ’s Civil Rights Division explained the agency’s charge to reduce stigma and eliminate discrimination involving HIV. The DOJ Civil Rights Division gives incoming HIV/AIDS discrimination a top priority, while educating the public on HIV and stigma.  HIV is explicitly protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act , and the DOJ Civil Rights Division charged with informing the public of this protection through conferences, fact sheets, and conferences.

Social Security Administration (SSA)

A representative of the Social Security Administration (SSA) explained that the SSA is working to make faster decisions on Social Security Disability designation cases.  SSA helps individuals return to the workforce and is developing ways to raise community awareness of the role of Social Security Administration.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Dr. Ron Valdiserri presented excerpts of the Health and Human Services (HHS) operational plan, which features the most detailed description of the $16 billion HHS HIV budget that has ever been compiled, including both entitlement and discretionary funding on the HIV domestic portfolio with some global line items as well. The twelve city initiative has expanded the CDC coordination and planning grant Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning and Implementation for Metropolitan Statistical Areas Most Affected by HIV/AIDS (ECHPP) to include coordination with Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) and Bureau of Primary Health (BPH), Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Indian Health Service (IHS), Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS), and National Institutes of Health (NIH).   The intent of the initiative is to share information on funding priorities in each of the twelve jurisdictions, and to  serve as a model for the country-wide coordination of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). This initiative may also be an opportunity to attain a common metrics for collecting HIV data.

Other HIV-related activities at HHS include:

  • An NIH study to determine the effects of stigma on access to HIV testing, and HIV care and treatment.
  • A consultation organized by ONAP at HHS with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community leaders to discuss how the United States government can be better partners in the HIV domestic epidemic.
  • An emphasis on the importance of  public/private partnerships to ensure the HIV domestic epidemic realizes the goals of NHAS.

Subcommittee Reports

Access to Care subcommittee

Andrea Weddle, Executive Director, HIV Medicine Association and Laura Hanen, Director of Government Relations, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors presented a health care reform update with a focus on HIV.  The subcommittee also discussed the importance of increased HIV testing, increased resources for the HIV workforce, and the need to evaluate the Ryan White Program in light of healthcare reform.

HIV Incidence subcommittee

PACHA member Dr. David Holtgrave began the presentation with the statement “fully funding prevention is the least expensive way forward” in the HIV epidemic.  Subcommittee members believe a metrics for measuring the factors associated with HIV is important, but it must be a metrics that can be used by federal, state, and local governments as well as by community based organizations.  Such a metrics have not been defined yet. The subcommittee also explained the importance of discussion and knowledge of community viral load across the country.  Subcommittee members noted that treatment as prevention must be discussed in more detail by the subcommittee and PACHA as a whole.

Global Affairs subcommittee

The majority of the subcommittee report was on a resolution to scale up global AIDS funding.  The discussion led to a conversation on how PACHA wants to use its resolution resources and how and when PACHA should weigh in on the budget and appropriations conversations annually.  The resolution was pulled but PACHA decided to send a letter expressing strong support for the United States to live up to its financial commitments in PEPFAR and the global fund.

Health Disparities subcommittee

The subcommittee report explained their monitoring of three issues 1. How the Veterans Administration monitors its 8.5 million clients/patients, 2. The need to develop system to gather data on safe disclosure issues by the end of the year as detailed in the NHAS, 3. The modernization of the HOPWA formula through the HUD Secretary’s overall housing modernization congressional plan.  The subcommittee then presented two panelists, Catherine Hanssens, Executive Director of the Center for HIV Law & Policy and Alison Nichols, from the Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division to discuss the proliferation of laws across the nation on HIV criminalization. This issue will continue to be discussed and debated to see where PACHA members fit in to the conversation.

Public Comments

Thirteen individuals made public comments at the two -day PACHA meeting. The comments were varied focusing on ADAP, prevention funding, Ryan White Program doctors concerns, and inclusion of young people in PACHA debates and membership.  Victor Barnes, Vice President of External Affairs at AIDS United addressed PACHA about the importance of inclusion of public/private partnerships as the country works on implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  Daria Boccher-Lattimore spoke on behalf of the National AETC network to explain how they are working to meet the NHAS goals using a cost-effective and coordinated approach to educational and clinical skills.  For example, AETCS seek to reduce new HIV infections by providing front line clinicianswith the ability to turn every visit into an HIV prevention opportunity regardless of the client’s HIV status of a client.