Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December Talking OUT Loud

Local Employment Opportunities with CBO

The Living Affected Corporation is seeking applicants for pre-screening for possible consideration for part-time positions within both the organizations current projects and 2013 programming.
The organization serves as a sub-grantee of the Arkansas Department of Health as a conduit to offering HIV/AIDS prevention interventions.

In the groups effort to widen the scope of its work, the organization has entered into a collaborative agreement with historically black college Philander Smith College who will serve as a fiduciary component in the first wave of funding. The collaboration also will include a development deal involving the schools Social Justice Institute and both on and off campus activities. LA Corp will cultivate "home grown" intervention core elements adopted from diffusion of evidenced based models. Some of these models are designed as a tools to educate, empower, and encourage basic prevention conversations among Black gay men ranging in ages 13-24, as well as diverse other communities. The organization seeks to identify key community "opinion leaders" who could be trained to provide additional training and monitoring then evaluating penetration outcomes of the program implementation.

According to federal statistical data Black gay men have had a 48% increase in infection rates which supports the need for additional messaging and innovative approaches. LA Corp will be seeking candidates for upcoming testing and counseling training session for 2013. Concurrent to the prevention programming angle, LA Corp also seeks to explore issues around its "H.E.F.T E. initiative" ( Housing, Education, Food, Treatment and Employment) that creates a framework of social determinants that also plays a significant role in not only incidence rates but also health outcomes among marginalized communities. To further address these levels of determinants, the organization has plans to pursue a partnership within the developing Medicaid expansion exchange project connected to the Affordable Care Act. Arkansas Exchange task force is recommending utilizing community based organizations in the effort to serve as navigation points of entry for citizens shopping the exchanges for insurance. Complete details of the project are still unfolding at post time, however in lieu of the program launch, LA Corp is preparing an interview schedule, hiring parameters as well as possible drug or background checks as required for certain positions.

Each applicant must be at least 18 years old, obtained a high school degree or certified GED, capable of a flexible schedule, reliable transportation including current drivers license and willing to actively engage pre-testing and ongoing training modules will be preferred. Qualified applicants will be apart of the organizations multi teams in providing HIV testing and counseling, public outreach and speaking, fundraising, event logistic planning and supportive data gathering and entry. Desired skills include Word software applications including Excel, interest in social justice activities, being a self starter with a team player attitude and prepared for some possible travel opportunities. Appointments can be arranged at 379.8203, resumes forwarded to cornelius@livingaffected.org , or FAX to 855.792.5483. 

Only serious applicants need apply. For additional organizational information: www.livingaffected.org Check us out and become a friend on FACEBOOK. There are additional volunteer opportunites in fundraising, longistics, data entry, outreach and community garden project.

NWA Holiday Food Drive 

Each year HIV Arkansas helps 50 families during the Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays by providing them with a basket of food. The food in these baskets is enough to feed a family for one week. We are anticipating this years give-a-way to be the biggest one we have ever had as our efforts are multiplied with the help of the members of The Spirit of Peace Community Church in Fayetteville. This welcoming congregation will be gathering food items and will help with assembling and distribution. We are blessed to have been given a faith-based family to help with this endeavor.
We have arranged with the Northwest Arkansas Regional HIV Clinic to host the give-a-way in the Conference Room located just across the hall from the Clinic at the Washington County Health Department. If you are in need of a basket please contact the clinic for eligibility.
If you would like to volunteer to work for this special cause, please call Michael at 479-466-6453. Lunch and drinks will be provided to all who volunteer to work the Food Drive Give-a-Way day. Volunteers will work from 9 a.m. to 12 noon preparing all the baskets. For more info contact: www.hivarkansas.org

Prevalence of HIV Criminalization Perpetuates Stigma and Inhibits Disclosure and Testing, According to U.S. National Dialogue
On December 4, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Center for HIV Law and Policy, and the National Alliance for State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), in conjunction with Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), hosted “The United States National Dialogue on the Criminalization of HIV Transmission, Exposure and Non-disclosure: The Role of States and the Federal Government." The landmark event brought together 40 civil society representatives, people living with HIV, and other experts to discuss how to lessen criminalization laws and how to enhance peoples’ ability to disclose their status. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) highlighted her work as the U.S. Representative to the Global Commission on HIV and the Law. She noted the surprising number of prosecutions of people living with HIV for failing to disclose their status despite lack of actual transmission, or evidence of intent to transmit. Rep. Lee also indicated that there is clear evidence showing that these prosecutions make it more difficult for people to get tested and treatment. Many criminalization laws were passed before the advent of anti-retroviral therapy and are based on a long-outdated understanding of HIV.
Panelists from UNDP highlighted a July 2012 report by the Global Commission called “Risks, Rights and Health” that served as the background for the presentation. The report and accompanying materials can be found here.
Randy Mayer, AIDS Director for the Iowa Department of Health, and Iowa State Senator Matthew McCoy (D), discussed actions being taken at the state level. Iowa has one of the harshest HIV criminalization laws in the U.S., requiring sentences of people living with HIV to more than 25 years in prison whether or not transmission actually took place or the person took efforts to minimize the possibility of transmission. Iowa’s law also requires the person register as a sex offender. Senator McCoy has introduced legislation to: 1) amend that state’s HIV statute to limit it to cases of malicious intent to harm someone, 2) change the penalty based on actual transmission, and 3) remove the registration requirement. Mayer has also worked to educate lawmakers about more effective ways to address the issue of transmission. NASTAD has created guidelines for state directors in helping to deal with this issue, which can be found here. Senator McCoy indicated he did not believe the issue broke down around partisan lines as much as around lines of the “informed and uninformed.” According to Senator McCoy, it is important that everyone understands the benefits of ending outdated criminalization laws.
Lisa Fager-Bediako from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Act Against AIDS Project moderated a discussion among the civil society representatives and audience about the risks and consequences of HIV transmission, HIV in hard-hit U.S. communities, HIV prosecutions and disclosure, promotion of safe and voluntary HIV disclosure and the identification of solutions and next steps. Participants in the room agreed to keep working to change laws and planned to create additional spaces for future discussions of HIV criminalization.
Seminar on "New Responses to the D.C. HIV/AIDS Epidemic": D.C. Gentrification an Independent Risk Factor for City's Vulnerable Populations
On Monday, December 3, the D.C. Developmental Center for AIDS Research (D-CFAR) hosted a seminar with Dr. Gregory Pappas, Senior Deputy Director of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration at the D.C. Department of Health. Entitled “New Responses to the D.C. HIV/AIDS Epidemic," Dr. Pappas’s presentation focused on trends in D.C.’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, including current systems of health and care and major policy approaches.
According to Dr. Pappas, D.C. has eliminated many of the traditional barriers to care and treatment, including lack of transportation and cost of medicine. It has the second highest rate of insurance coverage in the nation after Massachusetts due in part to early implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He highlighted the correlation between the increased number of clean needles distributed since local funding for syringe exchange was legalized in 2007 along with the decreased number of cases of HIV transmission through needle sharing. Despite many successful programs, HIV prevalence in D.C. remains high at 2.7%, and only 29% of those who are HIV positive have maintained viral suppression. Because of stigma, African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) are less likely to be tested, get into treatment, and be virally suppressed; in fact, 25% of African-American MSM in D.C. are HIV positive.
One of the most interesting aspects of Dr. Pappas’ presentation was his discussion of gentrification in D.C. as an independent risk factor for HIV for vulnerable populations, as these populations’ social capital is strained and displaced by the disruption of social networks due to the effects of renovation and restoration. In fact, he tracked rates of HIV incidence and gentrification and found that 55% of the variance in case rate distribution of HIV can be explained by gentrification alone.
In terms of policy approaches, Dr. Pappas suggested the idea of a “domestic PEPFAR,” a kind of program that would invest large amounts of money into prevention, treatment and care with coordination across the federal and jurisdiction levels. He also discussed the importance of HIV medical homes, which could be used as the national model for patient-centered medical homes for people living with chronic diseases once the Affordable Care Act is implemented. In February, his office will be hosting a training focusing on achieving coordination between community based organizations and clinical caregivers to ensure the highest quality of care and support for people living with HIV.
Many of the points that Dr. Pappas discussed, while specific to D.C., can be adapted and applied to regions across the country. For example, his data on the correlation between syringe exchange programs and decreased rates of HIV transmission should serve as evidence for a greater number of these programs. His focus on policies like gentrification at the micro-level has proven to be extremely valuable, and we must consider how social structures and programs around the country have an effect on HIV. As Dr. Pappas and his office continue to build policy that ensures the greatest quality of care and support for people living with HIV across the country, we should look to D.C. to learn valuable lessons about our own programs and policies.
To learn more about the DC D-CFAR, you can visit their website by clicking here.
Senate Fails to Pass Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
On December 4, the Senate failed to pass the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty of the United Nations, by 5 votes. The Convention was created to develop and carry out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights for people living with disabilities and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination. The U.S. International Council on Disabilities released a statement following the vote in support of those Senators who voted to pass the treaty:
“The American disability and veteran community applauds the 61 courageous senators who stood up for the rights of their citizens. The Democrats and Independents were unified in their support for the treaty. We sincerely thank those Republicans who stood with us for their courage: Senators McCain, Barrasso, Brown, Collins, Ayotte, Snowe, Murkowski, and Lugar. As for the other 38 senators, who abandoned the very principles and values that this country was built upon by blocking the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - we will not let you forget this vote. Countless Americans with disabilities came together across the United States to support the cause of U.S. ratification of the CRPD.”
HIV-positive individuals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the passing of this treaty would have been an even greater step towards ensuring that the inherent dignity of people living with HIV is respected and maintained. AIDS United hopes that this treaty will be passed to ensure the rights of all people with disabilities, including those living with HIV, are protected and respected.
To read more about HIV and the Americans with Disabilities Act, click here.
To read more about the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, click here.
Show Support for HIV Testing Recommendation!
On November 19, 2012, the United States Preventative Services Task Force issued a draft recommendation in strong support of routine HIV testing for all adolescents and adults ages 15 through 65, pregnant women, and others at increased risk for HIV younger than 15 and older than 65. This recommendation was assigned a Grade "A" rating. This is a monumental change for the USPSTF which in the past recommended testing only for people who are “at risk” for HIV and pregnant women. The Grade “A” grade is merely a draft and is now subject to a 30-day public comment period before it can be finalized.
Click here to read a sign-on letter authored by the HIV Testing Reimbursement Subcommittee of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership (FAPP) in strong support of the draft recommendation. If you or your organization would like to sign it, please go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/H6CVJNJ
The deadline to sign-on to the letter is 12 noon ET, Friday, December 14th.
Should you have any questions or comments on the letter, please feel free to contact Subcommittee Co-Chairs Carl Schmid at cschmid@theaidsinstitute.org or Holly Kilness at holly@aahivm.org.
Finalization of this recommendation can have a substantial impact on bringing more people into care and treatment, and decreasing new HIV infections. It will also have implications on coverage of HIV testing as USPSTF grades guide reimbursement requirements for private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid.
To read the draft recommendation or if you would like to submit your own comments (individual comments are due by December 17, 2012) go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/draftrec.htm.

Urge the USPSTF to Change Its Hepatitis C Testing Recommendation!
On November 27, 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft recommendation statement on screening for Hepatitis C. The statement recommends “screening for hepatitis C virus infection in adults at high risk, including those with any history of intravenous drug use and blood transfusions before 1992” and gives this recommendation a Grade B rating, meaning that screening for these populations has much more potential benefits than harm. The statement also recommends that “clinicians consider offering Hepatitis C infection screening in adults born between 1945 and 1965” and gives this a Grade C rating, meaning it has at least a small overall benefit.
AIDS United is concerned that this recommendation does not follow the guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, COMBATING THE SILENT EPIDEMIC of VIRAL HEPATITIS Action Plan for the Prevention, Care & Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, which is to implement routine viral hepatitis testing as part of the standard of care in a reformed health-care system.
The Task Force’s recommendation is open for public comments until December 24, 2012. Until then, you can show your support for changing the recommendation to a Grade B rating! You can read the draft recommendation and add your comments by clicking here.

Survey Regarding Safe and Appropriate Access to PrEP for Women in the U.S.
Earlier this year, SisterLove, a reproductive justice organization for women that focuses on HIV/AIDS and based in Atlanta, met with a group of women advocates from across the U.S. to talk about how to make PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) safely and appropriately accessible to women in the U.S. who want to use it. They have developed this survey to make sure that the views of transgender women, sex workers and active drug users are represented in their discussions.
We invite any and all eligible individuals to complete this survey by January 1, 2013. Your input is greatly appreciated and will assist SisterLove in this important discussion about the role of PrEP in the lives of women in the U.S. Feel free to pass this survey along to whatever lists, friends or colleagues you think are appropriate.
For more information, please contact Anna Forbes (annaforbes@earthlink.net or (301) 946-4269/(610) 662-1261).

National Latino AIDS Action Network Seeking Intern to Support Program and Policy Activities
The National Latino AIDS Action Network (NLAAN) is seeking a qualified intern to help support program and policy activities. NLAAN is a national coalition of community-based and national organizations, state and local health departments, researchers and concerned individuals working to address the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in Latino/Hispanic communities. It works to mobilize, educate, and advocate on national, state and local levels in collaboration with Latino-serving organizations and communities to prevent HIV infection, increase access to care and treatment, and inform research efforts that address the needs of diverse Latino communities.
Qualified candidates should apply by e-mail only to nlaan411@gmail.com. Please list INTERN, NLAAN in subject line and attach a cover letter and resume.

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