Progress Made on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS

Shared from blog.aids.gov

Today, the Office of the Vice President, the White House Council on Women and Girls, and the White House Office of National AIDS Policy welcomed community leaders and Federal colleagues to celebrate progress to date by the President’s Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities. It is timely that we gather at the White House during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. As the President proclaimed, girls and young women ages 16 to 24 are at the highest risk for dating violence, and this February, “we renew our commitment to preventing abuse, supporting survivors, holding offenders accountable, and building a culture of respect.” The recommendations for action in the White House Working Group report [PDF 292 KB], Addressing the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities, build on this commitment.

Together with public and private stakeholders, today’s discussion focused on our progress on implementing the report’s core objectives, which aim to support the wellbeing of women and girls by leveraging Federal resources and improving collaboration among agencies. We have made significant strides, and we are proud to share what we have accomplished. Here are some examples of current efforts that align with the report’s objectives.

We are working to improve health and wellness for women by screening for both intimate partner violence (IPV) and HIV. Key Federal agencies are working with large clinical providers to inform physicians, nurse practitioners, and community health care providers about screening recommendations for HIV and IPV. Partnering agencies include the HHS Office on Women’s Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Administration for Children and Families’ Family Violence Prevention and Services Program.

We are also focusing on improving outcomes for women in HIV care by addressing violence and trauma. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a national technical assistance plan for its Targeted Capacity Expansion grants that provide substance abuse treatment to minority women at high risk for HIV/AIDS. The plan focuses on the impact of trauma on women living with HIV and features a peer-support model.

The workgroup is also addressing certain contributing factors that increase the risk of violence for women and girls living with HIV. The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence Exit Disclaimer, supported by the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, will host online trainings this Spring for domestic violence service providers. The training will focus on the health implications of sexual decision-making in relation to IPV and HIV/AIDS

These are just a few examples of the ways in which Federal agencies have responded to the President’s call to action. In addition to more robust programming and improved policies, the report’s action steps include an emphasis on using research and collecting data to evaluate existing programs and to develop new intervention and prevention strategies for those at risk of violence and HIV.

The Working Group will continue to meet to: review progress on implementing the recommended actions; identify and resolve barriers and delays; share lessons learned; and address emerging issues or concerns. We look forward to sharing the report with stakeholders, because a coordinated response to this complex issue is necessary to maximize impact. While the report identifies specific Federal actions, its long-term success will depend on collaboration with partners in the private sector, faith communities, academia, and advocacy organizations. Our collective efforts will help us reach the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and reduce violence against women and girls.

What They’re Saying: Douglas M. Brooks as the New Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy

Shared from whitehouse.gov

 

After President Obama announced yesterday that Douglas M. Brooks, MSW, would lead the Office of National AIDS Policy, HIV/AIDS organizations from around the country announced their support. They echoed the President’s words when he said, “Douglas’s policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach.” Brooks, an openly gay African American man living with HIV, is a respected expert in the community whose distinct experiences will help further our goals of achieving an AIDS-free generation and improving the health of people living with HIV in the United States.

Here’s what some HIV/AIDS organizations said about the President’s announcement:

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research (New York, NY)
“We are eager to see strong leadership carry out the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s renewed focus on evidence-based policy and effective programming, especially with respect to populations hardest hit by AIDS in America, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, and African American and Latino men and women.”

San Francisco AIDS Foundation (San Francisco, CA)
“Douglas is the right person at the right time to step into this role. As new infections increasingly concentrate in the African-American community, and especially among Black gay men, it is more important than ever that our young people see a future for themselves in the face of someone like Douglas so that they can harness their innate resilience to create healthy and successful lives.”

AIDS United (Washington, DC)
“We have the opportunity to finally end the epidemic. I’ve been fortunate to work directly with Douglas, and have great confidence that he knows how to convene the right public and private partners to engage in the right conversations that will result in real progress.”

National Minority AIDS Council (Washington, DC)
“As the most heavily impacted population in the country, it is critical that Black gay men – especially those living with HIV – are represented at the highest levels of our government’s response to the epidemic.”

Lifelong AIDS Alliance (Seattle, WA)
“His tireless work to support the communities most greatly affected by HIV is steeped in compassion and personal commitment supported by epidemiological data. This appointment will help drive our common objective to end AIDS today and subsequently put a dent in HIV incidence within the United States and worldwide.”

The AIDS Institute (Washington, DC)
“Achieving these goals in an environment of constrained budget resources and within the changing landscape of the Affordable Care Act provides unique opportunities and challenges. We are confident Brooks possesses the leadership and passion to guide the White House through the next few years as we together aim to fulfill the President’s desire to realize an AIDS-free generation.”

Gautam Raghavan is Associate Director with the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Responsive Design

 

Shared from blog.aids.gov

 

We here at AIDS.gov are proud to formally announce that our site has been relaunched and redesigned using responsive design.

Responsive web design is a next-generation web development method of designing content so that it works well on both a laptop screen and a smartphone, automatically adjusting its size to fit the screen.

Since smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs and video game consoles all have different content display capabilities, use of responsive web design ensures that a site’s content is equally accessible via all devices without adding the extra cost of designing and maintaining separate “standard” and “mobile” sites.

AIDS.gov is among the first full-scale federal websites launched using responsive design, one of the modern tools and technologies that the Obama Administration’s new Digital Government Strategy instructs federal agencies to use in order to deliver better digital services to any device, anytime, anywhere.

“With so many Americans accessing the Internet via mobile devices, federal agencies are beginning to adapt to better meet the public’s information needs,” said Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, HHS assistant secretary for health. “Redesigning AIDS.gov using responsive web design ensures that more Americans can easily access critical information about HIV/AIDS, including the latest news on the government’s efforts to usher in an AIDS-Free generation.”

AIDS.gov is an important health resource, offering information about federal HIV/AIDS resources, policies, and programs and helping users understand how to use emerging technologies and new media to extend the reach of HIV/AIDS programs.

Since our initial launch in 2006, we have continued to update our design and content to keep pace with emerging needs. In April 2012, we introduced a more flexible way to access the information found in our HIV/AIDS Service Provider Locator, using an API, or application programming interface. This allows individuals and providers to enter a ZIP code and find federally-funded HIV testing and care-related services within a selected mile radius. This is just one of the many ways we have evolved to meet the needs of AIDS.gov visitors.

Read more about our new responsive design in this blog post by AIDS.gov Technology Deputy Jeremy Vanderlan.

Positive Work

Shared from the United States Department of Labor

 

The U.S. Department of Labor joins individuals and communities across the globe today in commemorating World AIDS Day. Held annually on Dec. 1, this is a time to remember the many lives we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS, assess our progress addressing the epidemic, and challenge ourselves to take the next steps toward an AIDS-free future.

It is also a time to reaffirm our commitment to facing HIV/AIDS today — by ending stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and ensuring that they have equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of community life, including employment.

Perhaps now more than ever, employment is an essential part of facing HIV/AIDS. Treatment advances have made entering, re-entering or remaining in the workforce viable for more and more people living with HIV/AIDS. Many already have, or are developing, valuable skills and have the desire and capability to use them in the workplace.

What’s more, research has shown potential health benefits associated with employment for people living with HIV/AIDS. That’s because work is a key social and structural determinant of health. For many of us, work is a fundamental part of life. It increases one’s ability to live a satisfying, productive and meaningful life. It also increases financial self-sufficiency and reduces reliance on publicly funded services. Thus, improving employment outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS benefits not only individuals, but society as a whole.

Reflecting this, the Labor Department is one of six federal agencies responsible for implementing President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy. And we in the Office of Disability Employment Policy are proud to represent the Labor Department in this effort. As part of our mission to advance employment for people with disabilities, we have undertaken a number of initiatives to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have equal opportunity to build skills, find jobs and add to the diversity of our nation’s workforce.

These efforts also dovetail with broader initiatives to promote access in our society. For example, under the Affordable Care Act, people living with HIV/AIDS will gain more options for insurance and treatment. Critically, starting in 2014, it will be unlawful to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, including HIV. Furthermore, the HIV/AIDS Care Continuum Initiative launched this summer by the White House emphasizes the importance of keeping people living with HIV/AIDS engaged and retained in care, and employment can play a key role in reaching that goal.

Earlier this year, ODEP formalized an alliance with longtime partner the National Working Positive Coalition made up of a consortium of people committed to improving the financial and personal well-being of people living with HIV/AIDS—to build research findings and effective employment policies and practices. A former NWPC board member, Eric Ciasullo, really sums up the importance of this issue: “The first 15 years of the epidemic were about dying, first quickly, then a little more slowly, but it was all about dying,” he said. “The next five years were about not dying … It’s my hope and belief that this next era of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is about living, really learning to live fully, with HIV.”

Working is a part of living fully, and we at ODEP are committed to ensuring more people with HIV/AIDS have the opportunity to do so. But, as with everything, reaching this goal will take all of us —employers, service providers, community organizations and others — working together. Please join us in facing HIV/AIDS by promoting opportunity — today and every day.

Kathy Martinez is the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy.

As part of World AIDS Day this year, individuals and organizations are encouraged to participate in the Facing AIDS photo sharing initiative. To learn more, visit facing.aids.gov.

Sharpening Our Focus to Meet National Goals on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Shared from AIDS.GOV

 

As we observe National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) 2014, we are reminded that African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Among African Americans, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (Black MSM) are especially hard hit, representing more than half of all estimated new HIV infections among African Americans each year. A particularly disconcerting estimate in 2010 showed that young Black MSM aged 13 to 24 accounted for the greatest number (4,800) of estimated new HIV infections among African Americans.

Furthermore, from an analysis of data about African Americans diagnosed with HIV infection from 19 jurisdictions that CDC released yesterday, we know that compared to Black women, Black men — regardless of transmission category — have lower levels of linkage to and retention in HIV care and are less likely to have achieved viral suppression (i.e., have controlled the virus at a level that helps keep them healthy and reduces their risk of transmitting the virus to others). The study also revealed that by transmission category, men with infection attributed to male-to-male sexual contact had the lowest percentage of linkage to care.

These disparities highlight that, despite important strides that have been made toward national HIV prevention, care and treatment goals, we clearly have more work to do as a nation to effectively address HIV among Black MSM, especially with regard to outcomes along the HIV care continuum [PDF 1.9MB].

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy highlights both the disproportionate impact of HIV among MSM in the U.S., the concentration of HIV among Black MSM within the African American community, and clearly states that “the United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men.” The Strategy also observes that our national commitment to this population has not always been commensurate with their disproportionate burden of HIV.

So, as we mark the annual observance of NBHAAD, we all—both individually and collectively—are called to be even more thoughtful, creative, and focused about actions we can undertake to strengthen HIV prevention, testing, care and treatment for Black MSM in communities across the United States.

Among federal programs, several important activities are underway in this regard:

  • Increasing the capacity, quality, and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS service providers to serve Black MSMApplications are due later this month for a new Resource/TA Center for HIV Prevention and Care for Black MSM being supported by HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau. To assist HIV service and other healthcare providers, the new center will identify, compile, and disseminate best practices and effective models for HIV clinical care and treatment across the HIV care continuum for adult and young Black MSM ages 13 to 24.
  • Promoting and supporting HIV testing among Black MSM – CDC’s Testing Makes Us Stronger social marketing campaign encourages Black MSM to get tested for HIV. Through compelling campaign ads in national magazines and on targeted websites, as well as through local advertising and materials distribution in target cities, CDC emphasizes the importance of getting tested for HIV regularly to help stop the spread of the epidemic. The campaign also includes a Facebook  page and a dedicated website with a suite of campaign materials available for individuals and organizations to download and distribute. Complementing this important outreach campaign, CDC makes significant investments in both health departments and community-based organizations to support high impact prevention activities, including testing.
  • Supporting engagement in HIV care – The HHS Office for Civil Rights’ Information is Powerful Medicine campaign focuses specifically on Black MSM, underscoring how having access to your medical records can help you better manage your health. Access to this information empowers patients to track their progress, monitor their lab results, communicate with their treatment teams, and adhere to their important treatment plans. The campaign also provides information on e-health tools, such as the “Blue Button,” which make it easier, safer, and faster for consumers to get access to their health information.
  • Strengthening state efforts for Black MSM – Under the Care and Prevention and Prevention of HIV in the U.S. (CAPUS) demonstration project, several of the eight participating states are focusing their efforts specifically on Black MSM. The three-year demonstration project is supported by the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund and seeks to support these states, each with disproportionately high burdens of HIV/AIDS among minority communities, to improve HIV testing, engagement, and retention in care among racial and ethnic minorities. In Illinois, for example, the state health department has launched a youth of color-specific initiative in East St. Louis to co-locate medical (including LGBT health), psychosocial, prevention and support services in a single setting by collaborating with the local health department and community-based organizations in East St. Louis, Illinois and across the river in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Supporting Implementation Research – The focus of the ongoing NIH-supported HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 073  study is determining the willingness of Black MSM to use a daily antiretroviral pill as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Studies such as HPTN 073 are critical in bridging our understanding between biomedical advances in HIV prevention and behavioral, social and structural factors that are often in play.

“We are greatly encouraged that many of these federal activities are consistent with recommendations made during our 2012 consultation with community leaders and federal partners about HIV among Black MSM,” notes Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases. “These efforts, and many more underway at the federal as well as state and local levels, are vital to reducing new HIV infections among Black MSM and to improving outcomes all along the HIV care continuum for this disproportionately impacted population.”

Timothy Harrison is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

New Analysis Estimates the Number of People with HIV Who Could Gain New Coverage Under the ACA

Shared from The Kaiser Family Foundation.

 

New Analysis Estimates the Number of People with HIV Who Could Gain New Coverage Under the ACA

A new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation in conjunction with researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the first national estimates of the expected impact of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions on people with HIV.

The brief finds that close to 70,000 uninsured people with HIV who are in care could gain new coverage.  This group includes almost 47,000 who could gain coverage through Medicaid if all states were to expand under the law and almost 23,000 who could gain coverage through the health insurance marketplaces, most of whom would get financial assistance.

Currently, 25 states are not planning to expand their Medicaid programs under the law, reducing the number of people with HIV who could gain Medicaid coverage.  The analysis estimates that state decisions not to expand Medicaid would reduce the number eligible for Medicaid by more than 15,000, leaving them without affordable insurance.

For individuals left out of coverage expansions, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program will continue to be a critical source of support. The program will also likely continue to remain critical in helping wrap around insurance coverage for many insured people with HIV, as it does today.

The full analysis is available online. The Foundation has also updated The Uninsured: An Interactive Tool to highlight people with HIV who are uninsured, why they are uninsured and how the ACA could impact them.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a leader in health policy analysis, health journalism and communication, is dedicated to filling the need for trusted, independent information on the major health issues facing our nation and its people. The Foundation is a non-profit private operating foundation, based in Menlo Park, California.

Sharing Responsibility, Strengthening Results

Shared from Whitehouse.gov

 

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.” Now more than ever, it is a fitting theme as the United States focuses, both on the domestic and global fronts, on building partnerships that strengthen our response to HIV and AIDS.

Here in the U.S., we are working with state, tribal and local governments, community groups, and other key stakeholders to implement this country’s first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy  (the Strategy) launched by President Obama in 2010. Since the launch, we have made significant progress in strengthening scientific investments, expanding effective HIV prevention, and connecting stakeholders in both the public and private sectors.

Last July, as the next step in implementing the Strategy, the President established via Executive Order the HIV Care Continuum Initiative, which focuses on the gaps in care and prevention, especially among communities with the greatest HIV burden.  Today the White House Office of National AIDS Policy released a report that contains the first recommendations from the Initiative describing how federal efforts will be integrated to strengthen testing, linkage to care, retention and treatment for people living with HIV.

The next stage of implementing the Strategy will be guided by the work on the Initiative, in conjunction with ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which will increase access to affordable healthcare coverage for thousands of persons living with HIV and millions at risk for infection.

To help ensure that people living with HIV in the United States have access to life-saving treatment, two years ago on World AIDS Day, the President announced an additional $35 million to support the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which provides medications to people living with HIV. We sustained that investment, and as of this World AIDS Day, thanks to the hard work of Federal and state partners, the waitlists that had peaked at over 9,000 in people in September 2011 are at zero clients for the first time since January 2008. Sustaining this momentum will require continued effort, including ongoing partnership with States and Congress enacting a budget that replaces the sequester in a balanced, fiscally responsible manner.

In the global fight against AIDS, President Obama announced today that the bipartisan U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is now reaching a record 6.7 million people on treatment, exceeding the target President Obama announced two years ago and marking an almost four-fold increase since the beginning of this Administration. Just as importantly, PEPFAR has achieved the President’s 2011 World AIDS Day prevention of mother-to-child transmission target by reaching 1.5 million pregnant women with HIV with antiretroviral drugs to prevent them from passing the virus to their children.

Today, President Obama also announced that the U.S. would continue its strong support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria by investing $1 for every $2 contributed to the Fund over the next three years, up to $5 billion.  Tonight, Secretary of State John Kerry will officially open the Global Fund’s Replenishment Conference and challenge other donors to support the Global Fund as a critical partner in combating these three deadly diseases.  Together, PEPFAR and the Global Fund account for over 90 percent of donor funding for the AIDS response in the world’s highest-burdened low- and middle-income countries.

An AIDS-free generation is within our reach, but it must be a shared responsibility. No one nation or entity can do it alone. Increasingly, working off of the health care delivery platform that PEPFAR has helped to put in place, partner countries are assuming greater responsibility for meeting the health needs of their people. Our new Country Health Partnerships will empower partner governments as we advance country ownership and strengthen the foundation for sustainability. We must accelerate these efforts, while at the same time continuing to expand access to lifesaving HIV services for those who are still in need.

Finally, ongoing investments in cutting-edge research are necessary to ensure we are constantly pushing to find new, more effective ways to prevent and treat HIV. Today, the President announced that the National Institutes of Health is prioritizing an additional 100 million dollars from existing resources for a new HIV cure research initiative. This investment will support advances in basic and treatment research aimed at eliminating the virus or putting it into long-term remission. Maximizing the probabilities that we will find a cure accessible to all who need it will require not only federal investment, but also strong collaborations with industry and communities most affected by HIV.

Through a shared responsibility for the fight against AIDS, we are truly seeing greater results.  But the fight is far from over.  Both here at home and across the globe, we will become more integrated in our planning and our implementation to ensure we are using every dollar invested effectively and efficiently to save more lives.  And through collective investments in groundbreaking research, we will ensure that science is always leading the way. Working together, the promise of an AIDS-free generation can become a reality.

Dr. Grant Colfax is the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy. Gayle Smith is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council.

President Obama Signs Reauthorization of PEPFAR

Shared from the CDC

 

Ten years ago, HIV/AIDS was devastating the health and wellbeing of millions of individuals in communities across Africa and in other resource-poor countries around the world. Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we have since made extraordinary progress in reducing new HIV infections and providing life-saving care and treatment to those who are living with HIV/AIDS around the world. An example of this progress was the announcement in June, that CDC, together with our sister PEPFAR implementing agencies, achieved a dramatic milestone: the prevention of HIV infection in one million babies globally over the past ten years.

Yesterday, President Obama reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to an AIDS-free generation by signing into law the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013.

Along with our colleagues at the HHS Office of Global Affairs, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), our work with PEPFAR over the next decade will be equally pivotal. CDC will continue to implement proven biomedical interventions that will dramatically decrease the impact of HIV/AIDS. The heart of what CDC brings to the fight is our ability to share our science and innovation to build capacity across the globe. We are closer today than ever before to reaching our goal of an AIDS-free generation. That is a reason to celebrate and, more importantly, to dedicate ourselves even more to scaling up what works to stop this pandemic.

CDC congratulates President Obama and Congress for reaffirming the U.S. commitment to PEPFAR and to achieving an AIDS-free generation.

Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Recognizing World AIDS Day 2013

Shared from The United States Department of Justice

 

 

“Federal law is a critically important tool in eradicating the discrimination that so many people living with HIV and AIDS still face in their daily lives.  By enforcing the civil rights laws and educating members of the public about their rights and responsibilities, the Department of Justice seeks to eradicate the stigma and stereotypes that so often lead to unlawful treatment of people with HIV/AIDS.  Along with our partner agencies under the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we remain committed to using every tool available to protect the rights of individuals with HIV/AIDS.”  

-Attorney General Eric Holder

In recognition of World AIDS Day 2013, the Department of Justice reaffirms its commitment to eradicating stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS across our country.  President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy recognizes that important work as a priority.  This year’s observance offers us the chance to both reflect on the work we have done in the past year to protect the rights of people with HIV/AIDS and – due to the sad truth of continuing discrimination – the significant work to be done in the year ahead.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division HIV/AIDS enforcement work under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) over the past year has been robust.  Much of that work has involved allegations that individuals were denied care or were otherwise treated differently in health care, dentistry, or other clinical settings because they have HIV, and the department resolved those allegations through policy changes that ensure that all future individuals with HIV/AIDS would not face the same discrimination in those settings.  These included settlements with a pain management clinic in North Carolina that refused to treat a patient due to her HIV status, a clinic in Missouri that refused to treat a woman with HIV for her serious eating disorder, a dentistry practice in Virginia that told a new patient with HIV that all of his appointments must be scheduled as the last appointment of the day, an alcohol treatment program in Ohio that excluded an individual from their program because of the side effects of his HIV medication, and a provider of bariatric surgeries based on the experiences of individuals in Pennsylvania and Michigan whose anticipated surgeries were cancelled or denied because of their HIV status.

In September 2013, the department filed a complaint and settlement in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina regarding the South Carolina Department of Corrections’ (SCDOC) policies and practices of segregating inmates with HIV in several of its prisons and denying those individuals the opportunity for equal participation in services, programs, and activities.  The segregation at the heart of the lawsuit includes placement of individuals with HIV in two of the system’s highest security prisons –  regardless of their individual security classifications –  where they were housed in “HIV-only” dorms and required to wear clothing and badges that identified their dorms (effectively disclosing their HIV status to other inmates, staff, and visitors).  Because certain programs are not provided at the two high security prisons, inmates with HIV were unable to participate in a variety of the SCDOC’s programs, such as drug treatment, work release, pre-release preparation, intermediate psychiatric care, and certain jobs that are made available to lower-level security inmates who do not have HIV.

The settlement resolving the department’s investigation of the SCDOC requires the SCDOC to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability (including, in particular, on the basis of HIV status).  Additionally, lower-level security inmates with HIV who are currently housed in the SCDOC’s two high security prisons will have an opportunity to choose new housing options based on the general classification system without regard to their HIV status.  Under this settlement, inmates with HIV will also be able to participate in DOC programs, such as drug treatment, work release, pre-release preparation, intermediate psychiatric care, youthful offender programs, re-entry, and food service jobs in the cafeteria and canteen.  Finally, inmates with HIV who in the past have experienced segregation will be given priority access to those programs that they were illegally denied.  With this settlement, the SCDOC joins the other 49 state correctional systems in recognizing that individuals with HIV are entitled to equal treatment under the law.

Through its technical assistance work, the department also continues its efforts to ensure that employers, businesses, state and local governments and people living with HIV/AIDS are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the law –  including through the availability of publications such as “Questions and Answers: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Persons with HIV/AIDS,” through training events and through the ADA Information Line, 800-514-0301 (voice), 800-514-0383 (TTY).

Today, in recognition of World AIDS Day 2013, the department pledges its continued commitment to the important goal of allowing individuals with HIV/AIDS to reach their full potential – free of the burdens of stigma and discrimination.  To learn more about the department’s work, please visit www.ada.gov/aids.

HHS Shares Tips for Consumers Visiting HealthCare.Gov

Shared from the HHS

 

As we continue working around the clock to improve HealthCare.gov and the holiday shopping season kicks into gear, we wanted to share some consumer friendly tips for individuals looking for quality affordable health insurance.

  • Shop HealthCare.gov during off-peak hours (mornings/nights/weekends).
  • Have your income and tax information ready when you log on.
  • Comparison shop to get the best deal.
  • You have until December 23 to get coverage starting January 1, 2014 – and until March 31st to get coverage in 2014.
  • If you need to talk to someone, use the call center: 1-800-318-2596. Reps are available 24/7, in 150 different languages.
  • And you can also find in-person help in your area: localhelp.healthcare.gov

We continue to work every day to ensure that every American who wants affordable health insurance has access to these new, quality coverage options — and hope these new tips are helpful to consumers seeking coverage in the days, weeks and months ahead.