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Policy Update 6-24-2011
In This Issue...

AIDS United
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Federal Fiscal Policy and AIDS United’s Advocacy Strategy
CDC Identifies over 18,000 People Unaware of Their HIV Infection
Monday is National HIV Testing Day
Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Report at June 21 Event
Announcements
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Federal Fiscal Policy and AIDS United’s Advocacy Strategy

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According to the U.S. Treasury,the debt limit, which was reached in mid-May, must be raised by August 2 to avoid the U.S. defaulting on its obligations. It has become a political reality for Democrats that in order to get Republicans to agree to pass legislation to raise the federal debt limit, they will be forced to agree to legislation that significantly reduces the deficit. Regardless of the deal that is reached, the details will have a major impact on people living with HIV, as health care reform, Medicare, and Medicaid are all on the negotiating table.

Negotiations Get Complicated, Political
The most prominent group conducting negotiations on this issue is being led by Vice President Joe Biden. The frequency of meetings was expected to continue and possibly increase next week (week of June 27) as the August 2 deadline approaches. The negotiations were aimed at determining how much and what type of deficit reduction is politically viable in the next two months and how Congress will deal with the debt limit. In a sudden move on Thursday, however, the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) pulled out of the Biden-led discussions, possibly in order to disassociate themselves from the necessity of having to find a way to raise new revenue, a position that conservatives in the Republican Party are strongly against. Their departure leaves the talks suspended and increases the likelihood that negotiations will shift to the President and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Conservatives in the House have also continued to apply as much pressure on negotiations as possible. On Wednesday, conservative members of the Republican delegation in the House presented a letter signed by 103 House Republicans that calls for a “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal that would make significant and immediate spending cuts (over $7 trillion in one year), impose a capping mechanism to reduce future government spending, and enactment of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

Passage of such a proposal would lead to a sudden, drastic deterioration in quality of and access to health care for millions of Americans. AIDS United supports a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes revenue growth (through taxes) and does not disproportionately cut funding for health, social safety net programs, and does not drastically alter Medicaid and Medicare.

Advocacy Strategy a Priority for AIDS United
AIDS United calls on President Obama and Vice President Biden to stand firm in opposing major, deep spending cuts to core social insurance programs (Medicaid and Medicare) in the debt ceiling negotiations. Congressional support for a balanced approach is also needed. People living with HIV/AIDS, low-income people, and other vulnerable populations must not be sacrificed in order to achieve fiscal stability.

Strong advocacy on these issues is a top priority of AIDS United. AU’s advocacy activities over the next weeks will include:

  • Contacting White House officials and key Members of Congress with the message: “Please oppose harmful cuts or spending caps to health care programs and programs for low-income people in the negotiations to reduce the deficit. Please support fair increases in revenue to prevent reckless, harmful cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, and other essential services.”
  • Sending out Action Alerts to mobilize the broad community to contact (calls or e-mails) their Senators and Representatives urging them to support a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not disproportionately cut funding for programs and services vital to people living with HIV/AIDS and social safety net programs and does not drastically change Medicaid and Medicare.

AIDS United urges all of our partners to take action to avert these dangerous cuts. Also keep an eye out for AU teleconference calls and a potential webinar in July.

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CDC Identifies over 18,000 People Unaware of Their HIV Infection

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The CDC announced today that their three-year program designed to expand access to HIV testing provided about 2.8 million tests to 25 of the most affected U.S. areas, and diagnosed 18,432 individuals who were previously unaware of their status. CDC’s Expanded Testing Initiative connected about three-quarters of these individuals successfully to HIV care; however, the work is not over. Director of CDC’s Division of HIV and AIDS Prevention Jonathan Mermin, M.D., noted, “These results are exciting and encouraging, they remind us that high-impact prevention works. With collaboration and focus on those who are hardest hit by this disease, we are making great strides in the fight against HIV.” CDC now provides funding to 30 areas in order to reach the populations most affected by HIV.

Click here to view the press release.

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Monday is National HIV Testing Day

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National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), Monday, June 27, is an annual observance to promote HIV testing. The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) founded the day in 1995 and continues to be the lead for this observance.

This year National HIV Testing Day falls between two major dates:

• June 5, 2011 - 30 years since the CDC’s MMWR reported the first cases of AIDS; and,
• July 13, 2011 - the one year anniversary of the release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

This is a particularly important time for YOU to get involved! Take the Test, Take Control.

Use this link to find the HIV testing site nearest to you.

Visit AIDS United’s blog on Monday to read blogs from staff about the importance of NHTD.

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Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Report at June 21 Event

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On June 21, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its report HIV/AIDS AT 30: A PUBLIC OPINION PERSPECTIVE. The report reveals the results of its eighth annual public opinion poll of 2,583 adults 18 and older, which is conducted to better understand the evolution of the national views and public opinion trends with regard to HIV/AIDS. The report was released at a special event and reception held at Kaiser Family Foundation’s offices.

Mollyann Brodie, PhD, Kaiser Family Foundation’s Senior Vice President & Director, Public Opinion & Survey Research provided overview of the report’s major findings, which include:

  • There is a decreasing national sense of urgency among the public. When polled in 1987, 66% of Americans named HIV/AIDS as the most urgent health problem facing the country, compared to 7% today.
  • HIV testing rates have remained the same since 1997, with about 21% saying they have been tested in the last 12 months.
  • Approximately 1/3 of Americans are misinformed about basic HIV/AIDS facts.
  • The epidemic is disproportionately affecting black Americans and thus they express much higher levels of concern about HIV infection than whites.
  • While reported stigmatizing attitudes have declined in recent years, a substantial amount of Americans continue to express discomfort at the idea of interacting with people living with HIV.
  • More than half of Americans support increased funding for HIV/AIDS, and less than 1 in 10 say the federal government spends too much in this area.

Click here to read the full report.

The event also included Jeff Crowley, MPH, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy at The White House, as well as a panel that spoke about the Greater Than AIDS campaign (http://www.greaterthan.org/) and confronting the epidemic facing black America. The panel consisted of Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA, 9th), Lisa Fitzpatrick, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Howard University and Consultant and Senior Technical Advisor, DC Department of Health, and Phill Wilson, President & CEO, Black AIDS Institute.

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Announcements

AIDS Awareness Days
June 27 - National Testing Day

Tell Us Your Advocacy Story!
AIDS United is launching a Regional Organizing Initiative to strengthen and support HIV/AIDS advocacy efforts across the U.S.

In order to build the strongest program possible, we need your help! We are asking AIDS United grantees, stakeholders, partners, and constituents, like you, to tell us about your organization's current advocacy activities and capacity. Your responses will help us at AIDS United learn how we can best support your efforts.

Please click here to complete this survey and help AIDS United learn more about your current advocacy activities, capacity, strengths, and needs. The survey takes approximately 20 minutes.

If you have any questions, please e-mail Jessica Terlikowski, Director of Regional Organizing, at jterlikowski@aidsunited.org.

Blog Series to Commemorate 30th Year of Epidemic
In our ongoing effort to commemorate the 30th year of the AIDS epidemic, AIDS United is hosting a blog series focusing on HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years, and we would like to invite our readers, colleagues and stakeholders to submit contributions.

Check out the blog entries we have received so far!

As a guideline, submissions can be up to 1,000 words and might address at least one of the questions below. Or feel free to submit a piece on a topic of your own choice referencing the 30th anniversary of AIDS.

Why is it important that we observe the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS?
How have you been personally and/or professionally affected by HIV/AIDS?
What are you most optimistic about moving forward?
What do you have the most concern about moving forward?
How have the following circumstances changed over the last 30 years (choose one or more to answer)?

• Public perception/stigma
• Face of the epidemic
• Clinical knowledge
• Outlook for people living with HIV/AIDS


Send your entries to Jimmy Schneidewind at jschneidewind@aidsunited.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
 

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