Office of National AIDS Policy Blog
- Posted byon April 26, 2010 at 11:21 AM EDT
On Friday, May 14, 2010, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) will hold a community meeting to provide an update and gain additional recommendations for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). For those who cannot attend the meeting in person, ONAP will hold a conference call shortly after the meeting to discuss the strategy.
We know the strategy’s success will rely on the participation of our community partners across the country. That’s why we hosted 14 community discussions across the country, and conducted an online call to action to solicit recommendations via our website. In February, we co-hosted with the Department of Health and Human Services, a community meeting to update the public on our progress and introduce the Federal HIV Interagency Working Group. Earlier this month, we released a report summarizing community recommendations we received for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
During the May 14 meeting and the conference call, ONAP will provide a brief overview of key priorities and identify issues where additional feedback would be helpful. Participants will be able to offer suggestions for the strategy, and we encourage public input on the following topics:
• Involving non-traditional stakeholders in fighting HIV/AIDS
• Expanding the engagement of key partners including businesses and philanthropy, faith communities, and HIV service providers
• Ensuring that implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is successful
Below are details for both the community meeting and conference call:
ONAP COMMUNITY MEETING
When: Friday, May 14th at 11:00 am (Eastern Time). Guests should arrive by 10:15am to ensure smooth security processing.) The meeting will end by 12:30 pm.
Where: South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House
To RSVP for this event, please submit the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org by Close of Business Monday, May, 10th: Full Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Country of Origin, Citizenship. Members of the public will be accommodated on a first come first served basis as meeting room space is limited. We will respond to RSVPs to confirm all reservations to attend the event.
ONAP COMMUNITY CONFERENCE CALL
When: Friday, May 14th at 1:00pm (Eastern Time). The call will end at 2:00 pm (Eastern Time).
Conference Call Phone Number: (800) 288-8961
Media wishing to attend must send the following information to email@example.com by close of business on Monday, May 10: News Outlet, Full Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Country of Origin, Citizenship.
Jeffrey S. Crowley is the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Senior Advisor on Disability Policy
- Posted byon April 9, 2010 at 1:00 PM EDT
Last fall, the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) asked Americans to give us their input for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which will be released in the coming months. From the beginning, ONAP recognized that community feedback would be invaluable to our National HIV/AIDS Strategy development so we hosted 14 community discussions and meetings throughout the United States, in addition to launching an online portal for Americans to send their comments directly to the White House. In the end, we received over 1000 written responses from nearly every state and U.S. territory, from people affected by or living with HIV, from men, women, and transgender individuals, from young and old, and from respondents of various ethnicities, racial backgrounds and sexual orientation.
Despite the diversity in setting and respondents, a core set of common themes emerged across all of the recommendations. Today, we are releasing a report of the major themes that we heard from the public .
Throughout this process we heard that people want to bring the issue of HIV/AIDS back into the forefront of the American psyche through efforts such as social marketing campaigns and comprehensive HIV prevention and education for youth, injection drug users, communities of color, and gay and bisexual men. Access to care was also commonly discussed. Specifically, expanding support services for people living with HIV and the need to diagnose and treat co-occurring conditions such as Hepatitis, substance use, mental health, and markers of economic instability (e.g. housing, joblessness).
Even when access to treatment is available, the stigma surrounding an HIV diagnosis may be too great for people to get tested or enroll in care. We heard from many people living with HIV who spoke about the stigma associated with being HIV-positive and its effect on their daily lives. Many people discussed the ways in which stigma and discrimination contributed to HIV-related racial, geographic, and gender disparities. People also described personal accounts of discrimination and stigma from providers and difficulties in accessing a range of services, including dental care and prenatal care.
Last, many expressed the importance of coordinating HIV prevention and treatment activities across the Federal government. Many also expressed the importance of evaluating current HIV prevention and care efforts and making sure that these evaluation activities help guide Federal, state and local activities and funding.
These recommendations are only a subset of the input that we had received and many more recommendations for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy are detailed in the community discussions report. Not all of the recommendations, however, will appear in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. To be effective, the strategy must include a small number of high payoff items that will address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. Nevertheless, we intend for this community report to provide a baseline for the status of the domestic epidemic and serve as a planning tool and resource for Federal, State and local agencies. We are grateful for the many Americans who helped make this report possible and for the many insightful recommendations that will go a long way in ensuring that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is a success.
- Posted byon April 1, 2010 at 5:45 PM EDT
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that we will be expanding our successful HIV testing initiative by $31.5 million, for another three years. The new total program funding will be approximately $142.5 million over the next three years. This will reach more people with life-saving information on whether or not they are infected with the virus. Since the testing initiative began in 2007, more than 1.4 million Americans have been tested for HIV through this program and more than 10,000 people with HIV have been newly diagnosed. The vast majority of these people were linked to care.
We know that getting people tested and diagnosed is an important step in reducing new HIV infections. Testing is the first step in linking HIV-infected people to medical care, ongoing support, and prevention efforts to help them establish and maintain safer behaviors. In fact, studies show that once people learn they are infected with HIV, most take steps to protect their partners.
However, far too many people in the U.S. are infected with HIV but unaware of their status. More than 200,000 people – or one out of every five people living with HIV in this country – may be unknowingly transmitting the virus to their partners. Additionally, many people are diagnosed with HIV late in the course of infection, when treatment and prevention efforts cannot be maximized.
The first three years of the initiative primarily focused on increasing testing and knowledge of HIV status among African American men and women. These groups bear an extremely disproportionate impact of HIV. The new three-year effort will reach even more populations at-risk for HIV, including gay and bisexual men of all races, Latinos, and injection drug users. Thirty jurisdictions are eligible to apply for the new funding (an increase from 25 areas in the last cycle of funding), which represent the areas with the most severe HIV epidemics among these populations. The first year of the expanded program will begin in September 2010.
CDC is committed to ensuring that more Americans are tested for HIV, and where necessary, linked to appropriate care. This is critical among those vulnerable populations that need it the most—including those who don't have regular contact with the health care system. CDC has long been the nation’s leader in supporting testing efforts as a part of HIV prevention. In 2006, we issued new recommendations to make HIV testing routine for all Americans, regardless of one’s risk for the virus. Our goal is to make HIV testing as routine as a blood pressure check. The testing initiative has helped to make those recommendations a reality in many health care settings, where opportunities to screen patients for HIV are often missed. This program represents just one example of the ways that we can help state and local health care providers make testing routine and to identify more people who are infected but unaware of their status—and ultimately reduce the ongoing and unacceptable toll of HIV on this nation.
More information is available about the funding announcement on CDC's website. To learn more about HIV and AIDS and find out where you can receive a confidential HIV test, visit www.hivtest.org , call 800-CDC-INFO, or text your ZIP code to “Know It” (566948).
Kevin Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP)
- Posted byon March 19, 2010 at 5:10 PM EDT
March 20, 2010 is the fourth annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is a day to renew our commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS and to challenge the stigma surrounding the disease by increasing awareness of the risk factors for infection. I know that many people are uncomfortable talking about HIV and AIDS, but progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS depends on our knowing the basic facts about transmission as well as on increasing American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) access to HIV testing and comprehensive health services.
Even though AI/AN HIV/AIDS cases comprise less than 1 percent of total cases in the U.S., AI/AN communities are disproportionately impacted by the disease. American Indians and Alaska Natives have a 40% higher rate of AIDS than non-Hispanic white Americans, and the AIDS rate among Native women is 2.8 times that of non-Hispanic white women. AI/AN communities experience significant health disparities and face high rates of substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections, which increase the risk of HIV transmission. Additionally, many American Indians and Alaska Natives, like other Americans, do not know that they are infected and are therefore more likely to spread the disease. Together, we must continue to expand access to confidential testing in both urban and rural areas. As a Nation and within our Indian health system, our promotion of routine HIV screening combined with AI/AN community acceptance is helping to reduce stigma and confidentiality concerns.
To be effective, HIV/AIDS prevention programs must also be culturally sensitive. Current programs in Indian Country, therefore, are focusing on traditional teachings and the importance of community. The Phoenix Indian Medical Center, Gallup Indian Medical Center and Alaska Native Medical Center are just a few examples of comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs involving HIV prevention programs and treatment and care services. Smaller service units and urban facilities such as Pine Ridge, SD and South Dakota Urban Indian Health are also expanding HIV testing services and experiencing positive community acceptance - a much needed effect to help reduce stigma surrounding HIV.
In addition to increasing the availability of culturally sensitive HIV testing and prevention programs in rural communities, we must work to overcome the barriers keeping American Indians and Alaska Natives from obtaining needed care and treatment. Towards that effort, the Indigenous HIV/AIDS Research Training (IHART) program, designed specifically for Indigenous and other underrepresented ethnic minority (UREM) scholars, mentors and trains AI/AN and UREM scholars to design culturally grounded research that will contribute to ameliorating health disparities among American Indians and Alaska Natives in the areas of HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections, and mental health. The IHART program nurtures the grant making skills of AI/AN tribal, community, and university-based scholars and incorporates culturally specific Native epistemologies, methodologies, and research protocols. Increasing the ranks of AI/AN and UREM scientists conducting culturally grounded research will generate information that can guide effective future prevention and intervention programs.
The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) is also joining the fight against the epidemic. ONAP is currently developing a National HIV/AIDS Strategy with input from the public and from agency partners, including the Indian Health Service, to more effectively address the epidemic. Participation from stakeholders, including tribal leaders, will be necessary to ensure that all affected populations benefit from the implementation of the National Strategy. Together we must confront the high rates of poverty, drug use, mental health issues, high-risk sexual behaviors, and violence, which increase the risk of HIV transmission and limit individuals’ ability to access services.
Raising awareness about HIV/AIDS is only the first step in overcoming this public health crisis. Today, we honor the efforts of those working to improve the lives of AI/AN people living with HIV/AIDS, including the dedicated staff at IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health facilities.
As we move forward, it is important that we continue to empower AI/AN communities in rural and urban areas to reduce new infections and increase the availability and accessibility of culturally competent care.
Kimberly Teehee is Senior Policy Advisor of Native American Affairs for the White House Domestic Policy Council
- Posted byon March 10, 2010 at 2:31 PM EDT
Today, we commemorate the 5th annual National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to participate in a briefing held by the National Alliance for State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and the HHS Office on Women’s Health with important leaders in Congress. The event highlighted how the domestic epidemic is affecting women and how much we need to maintain our commitment to addressing this public health issue.
The statistics are sobering: Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States. While women in the U.S. represented 8 percent of AIDS diagnoses in the 1980’s, they now account for 27 percent. The HIV epidemic in the U.S. disproportionately impacts women of color: HIV/AIDS is one of the leading causes of death among black women and Latinas. Compared to white women, the AIDS case rate is 5 times higher for Latinas and 20 times higher for black women. Clearly, we must redouble our prevention efforts as well as improve care and treatment for women living with HIV.
It is imperative that HIV prevention efforts take into account the way in which many women in the U.S. become infected with HIV, as more than 80 percent of HIV/AIDS cases among women and teenage girls are attributable to heterosexual contact. It is also important to increase access to female-controlled prevention methods, such as the female condom, and to develop effective microbicides and vaccines.
The Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) is leading a team of Federal Agency partners to develop a National HIV/AIDS Strategy and strengthen our nation’s response to the domestic epidemic. Working with a wide range of stakeholders such as state and local governments, businesses, faith communities, service providers, and others will be critical to implementing the national strategy.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, there have been significant reductions in mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the U.S. Research has also shown that progress is possible through targeted prevention programs that are effective in reducing risky behaviors among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women. But there is still work to be done, a major piece of which is enacting reforms to our health insurance system that will expand access to care. Key to these reforms are making preventive care accessible and ensuring that Americans, including women living with HIV, are not excluded from being insured due to a preexisting condition.
As we move forward, it is not only crucial to increase the number of women and girls who know their status, but also, through interventions that increase self-esteem, the number of women and girls who know their self-worth and have tools to make healthy decisions.
Tina Tchen is the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls
- Posted byon February 22, 2010 at 1:20 PM EDT
This event has concluded. See a video of the event below.
On Wednesday, February 24th, from 2:00-3:45pm, the public will have an opportunity to hear more about our progress to date and the process that the interagency working group is following to develop the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, as well as meet the members of the interagency working group. The meeting is hosted by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) and the Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The meeting is not a community discussion, but designed to give the public an opportunity to hear what has already taken place and our next steps in developing the strategy. (See an agenda of the meeting.)
Although the United States has among the worst HIV epidemics among industrialized nations, the US has never adopted a coordinated nationwide response to address the epidemic. President Obama is committed to addressing HIV in the United States and has tasked the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, under the direction of Jeffrey Crowley, to develop a National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The President articulated three goals for the strategy:
- Reduce the number of new HIV infections (HIV incidence);
- Increase access to care for people living with HIV and optimize health outcomes; and
- Reduce HIV-related disparities.
The strategy will not be a comprehensive catalog of all of the things we need to respond to the HIV epidemic. Rather, the strategy is an opportunity to identify a small number of high payoff action steps that can shift and improve our nation’s response to HIV/AIDS in order to achieve the President’s goals.
In order to develop the strategy, we first solicited feedback from community partners across the country last August through December. In the second phase of developing the strategy, we completed formation of a federal interagency working group at the beginning of this year. The group includes influential leaders from Departments and Agencies across the US government, and includes subcommittees devoted to each of the President’s three goals for the strategy. HIV and AIDS require a medical response and the Assistant Secretary for Health (Dr. Howard Koh) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) serves on the interagency working group, as well as other crucial HHS employees and representative from HHS agencies. But one thing that has become abundantly clear over the course of the epidemic is that tackling HIV and AIDS requires more than a medical response. That is why the interagency working group also includes members from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration and other government entities. Moreover, ONAP is consulting with key officials at additional Departments and Agencies that could not formally participate on existing interagency committees to address gaps on topics critical to the development of a successful National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
We understand the importance of community feedback. From the beginning, we opened up the strategy development process in an unprecedented manner by holding 14 community discussions across the country, as well as soliciting recommendations from the White House website to hear directly from you. In order to keep the community engaged in the process, we also decided to hold a public meeting with our interagency working group members this week.
As we realize not everyone will be able to attend the February 24th meeting, we will have meeting notes available on AIDS.gov. This is one of many steps taken to ensure the public’s voice is heard throughout this process and we look forward to seeing many of our community partners, as well as other partners during the meeting and hope that you are able to welcome our interagency members in person.
Gregorio Millett is a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy
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