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Biggest HIV and LGBT Policy Changes in 2017

Thursday Dec 28, 2017

With budget slashes left and right, elected officials threatening to quarantine or otherwise punish people living with HIV/AIDS, and the Office of National AIDS Policy essentially shuttered, with top brass having exited in June and their website shut down, it's safe to say it hasn't been a great year for moving toward a cure for HIV.

Notwithstanding, individuals and groups have risen to the challenge of shouldering this burden themselves, working to ensure people have healthcare, holding scientific conferences, and giving grants and fellowships to promising young researchers.

Every time the Trump administration tries to cut funding, or exclude LGBT seniors from being counted, or bar the use of terminology like "transgender" and "evidence-based" at the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, our community is there to confront them. Together, we will not be deterred from realizing the full potential of every individual in our community. Together, we will make the difference.

  • Coalition of LGBTQ Organizations Commit to Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment
    Out2Enroll announced the formation of an unprecedented nationwide coalition of over 60 national, state, and local LGBTQ and allied organizations committed to educating LGBTQ consumers about the health insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act from November 1 to December 15.

    The Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare") has provided financial stability to many LGBTQ people and families, helping our community access quality, affordable health insurance.

    "Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for low- and middle-income LGBTQ people has dropped by an overwhelming 35 percent since 2013. That means more LGBTQ people have access to medically necessary services they need, from life-saving HIV drugs to gender-affirming health care," said Katie Keith, Co-Founder of Out2Enroll.

    To read more, click here.

  • HIV Medical Professionals Urge Congress to 'Do No Harm' in Efforts to Repeal the ACA
    Earlier this year, a group of more than 950 medical professionals sent an open letter to members of Congress urging them not to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without first establishing a viable replacement plan that will continue to offer affordable coverage to those eligible under the ACA, and to sustain the federal commitment to the Medicaid program.

    The letter was signed by members of four HIV medical groups: the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM), Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) and the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition (RWMPC).

    The letter states that, "Prior to the Affordable Care Act, a majority of our patients [living with HIV] were either denied health insurance coverage because of their condition or were unable to afford the extraordinary high cost of the coverage available to them. In most states, Medicaid coverage was available to patients only after they became sick and disabled by AIDS.

    To read more, click here.

  • CDC Officially Admits People With HIV Who Are Undetectable Can't Transmit HIV
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released groundbreaking news yesterday when they announced that people with HIV whose treatment has made their viral load undetectable can't transmit HIV to others.
    HIV Plus Mag reported that the CDC finally joins hundreds of other experts and HIV organizations to say that the undetectables -- who make up nearly half of all HIV-positive people in the U.S. -- cannot transmit HIV.

    In recognition of National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the CDC memo stated, "On this day, we join together in taking actions to prevent HIV among gay and bisexual men and ensure that all gay and bisexual men living with HIV get the care they need to stay healthy."

    To read more, click here.

  • Study Finds Effective HIV Treatment Halts Transmission Among Same-Sex Couples
    Results from the largest study to analyze HIV transmission risk among homosexual couples with differing HIV status have shown that HIV-positive men who are on treatment that makes the virus undetectable, do not transmit HIV to their partners.

    The results from the Kirby Institute's Opposites Attract study were presented at the IAS Conference on HIV Science in Paris.

    "Undetectable virus level effectively prevents HIV transmission among gay couples," said Professor Andrew Grulich from the Kirby Institute and chief investigator on the study. "Opposites Attract is the first study to show that these results apply in both high and middle-income countries. Our research adds to the evidence from a small number of other international studies of heterosexual and homosexual couples and means that we can say, with confidence, that effectively treated HIV blocks transmission in couples of differing HIV status."

    To read more, click here.

  • President Trump's FY 2018 Budget Cuts Essential HIV/AIDS, STD Programs
    In May, President Donald Trump released his administration's detailed FY 2018 Budget. AIDS United, NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors, NMAC and The AIDS Institute join together to oppose the draconian cuts proposed by the Administration including many programs that are essential for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and STDs.

    "The country has made great progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS and STDs, but if these cuts are enacted, we will turn back the clock, resulting in more new infections, fewer patients receiving care, and ultimately, more suffering from diseases that are preventable and treatable," said Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.

    To read more, click here.

  • New HRC Report Highlights Trump-Pence's Stealth Attacks on Democracy and the LGBTQ Community
    The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, released a new report, Trump's Administrative Abuse and the LGBTQ Community, highlighting the Trump-Pence administration's highly unusual and abusive efforts to quietly roll back critical protections, programs and services for the LGBTQ community by bypassing long-standing administrative policies and customs for instituting such changes.

    "Under the Trump-Pence administration, federal agencies have ignored long-standing guidelines for engaging the public in policy changes specifically targeting the LGBTQ community and in some instances have failed to report changes altogether," said HRC Associate Legal Director Robin Maril. "This stealth effort by Trump-Pence to disregard the legal safeguards in place to promote consistency and public accountability is undermining public trust and fostering an atmosphere of anxiety and skepticism."

    To read more, click here.

  • Elton John Condemns Georgia Rep. Betty Price for Suggesting People Living with HIV Should be Quarantined
    Georgia State Representative Betty Price, who is married to the former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, asked the head of the Georgia Department of Public Health's HIV epidemiology section what officials are "legally able to do" to limit the spread of HIV throughout the state. She went on to suggest that people living with HIV should be quarantined as a solution for stopping the spread of the virus which causes AIDS.

    In response to her comments, Elton John, founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, issued the following statement:

    "Rep. Betty Price's comments about people living with HIV are horrific, discriminatory, and astonishingly ill-informed. As a doctor and elected official from a state where people are still contracting HIV at an alarming rate, Mrs. Price should know better than to demonize people and perpetuate myths that stigmatize people living with HIV.

    Her words smack of a dark time when there was little or no information about HIV and people were afraid of each other. Today, thanks to scientific advancements, growing acceptance and love, people living with HIV are living longer, healthier lives. We also know people living with HIV pose no public threat."

    To read more, click here.

  • Bill to Modernize Discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws Passes First Major Hurdle
    A bill that would modernize California's laws that criminalize and stigmatize people living with HIV cleared its first major legislative hurdle. The Senate Public Safety Committee approved Senate Bill (SB) 239 by a vote of 5-2.

    The bill is authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Asm. Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and cosponsored by the ACLU of California, APLA Health, Black AIDS Institute, Equality California, Lambda Legal and Positive Women's Network - USA. The organizations are part of Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), a broad coalition of people living with HIV, HIV and health service providers, civil rights organizations and public health professionals dedicated to ending the criminalization of HIV in California.

    To read more, click here.

  • Nation's Largest ASOs Condemn Efforts to Ban Words at CDC
    Five of the nation's leading organizations focused on ending the HIV and STD epidemics in the United States -- AIDS United, NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors, NMAC and The AIDS Institute -- expressed alarm over reports that the Trump Administration barred staff at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) from using certain words in its FY2019 budget justification to Congress, among them "transgender," "fetus," "science-based," "evidence-based," "diversity," "vulnerable," and "entitlement."

    In a statement, they said, "Discouraging use and reference to 'evidence-based' or 'science-based' is concerning enough. However, any attempt to remove 'transgender' and 'diversity' from CDC vocabulary would represent an outright dereliction of the stated duties of the agency. Such efforts are unacceptable and cannot go unanswered."

    To read more, click here.

  • Federal Court Dismisses Whistleblower Claims Against AHF
    In a resounding victory for AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a federal court in Florida has dismissed claims in a whistleblower lawsuit (Case 0:14-cv-61301-KMW) brought by three former AHF employees who challenged AHF's pro-active and successful approach to finding and linking HIV-positive individuals in Florida to lifesaving medical care and treatment with unfounded allegations about the legality of AHF's model of HIV testing and linkage.

    The Court, the Department of Justice and three U.S. Attorneys in South Florida also suggested in its ruling and pleadings that AHF's model of HIV testing and linkage is even a preferred model, or one encouraged under the Ryan White Program.

    To read more, click here.

  • amfAR's Kenneth Cole Launches End AIDS Coalition at 9th International AIDS Conference on HIV Science
    Today at the International AIDS Conference on HIV Science, leaders in the global AIDS response and Kenneth Cole, American fashion designer, amfAR Chairman of the board and UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador, launched the End AIDS Coalition (EAC) -- a collaboration of leading AIDS experts, scientists, clinicians, policy-makers, faith leaders, businesses, activists and humanitarians working together to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

    "We are at a 'tipping point' in the fight against AIDS, with a quickly-closing window of opportunity," said Mr. Cole, End AIDS Coalition Founder. "If we do not act now, and act together, to gain control of this global epidemic, it may never be possible and the costs in both funding and human lives would be catastrophic."

    To read more, click here.

  • NYC Publishes First-Ever LGBTQ Health Bill Of Rights
    New York City kicked off Pride Month by encouraging LGBTQ individuals to put their health first. Refinery 29 reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration published the city's first-ever LGBTQ health bill of rights, to help LGBTQ New Yorkers get the health care they need and deserve.

    The bill aims to help New Yorkers find doctors and health care providers who not only affirm their identity, but also incorporate their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression into their health care.

    The city health department also launched a campaign called "Bare It All" to urge LGBTQ New Yorkers to talk openly about their health with their doctors.

    "Pride Month is not only a time to celebrate how far we have come, but also decide how we are going to move forward together," de Blasio said in a statement. "New York City has long been a leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality, and these ads are further evidence of the City's unwavering commitment to ensuring all New Yorkers have access to quality, affordable and judgment-free healthcare regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation."

    The new "bill of rights" not only consists of legal rights, like the right to choose who'll make medical decisions for you if you're unable (like a partner or spouse), the right to be treated with dignity, and the right to decide who may or may not visit you if you're admitted to a health care facility.

    To read more, click here.

  • Survey Reveals Tremendous Challenges and Threats of Being Black and Transgender in America
    Building upon its groundbreaking 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) -- the largest survey of transgender identity in the nation -- the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has joined with Black Transmen, Inc.; Black Transwomen, Inc.; and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) to produce a detailed report about experiences of Black USTS respondents.

    While findings from the USTS revealed several crucial challenges to being transgender in the United States, black respondents reported substantially higher threats, deeper levels of poverty and economic insecurity, negative health outcomes and interactions, and more extreme distress than others surveyed. Many findings are alarming and are cause for immediate public concern.

    To read more, click here.

  • HRC Announces Fellowships for 10 Young Nonprofit Leaders Working to End HIV in Hardest-Hit Areas
    The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, announced the selection of ten outstanding, young leaders for the second year of its fellowship program that focuses on elevating the work of young people on the front lines of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

    The HRC Foundation's HIV 360° Fellowship Program, made possible with the generous support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), provides individualized training and support to innovative young professionals and nonprofit leaders as they tackle the challenges facing communities hit hardest by HIV, including Black and Latino gay and bisexual men, transgender women of color, and LGBTQ people living in the U.S. South.

    To read more, click here.

  • FDA Approves First Generic Truvada in U.S.
    On June 9, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first generic version of emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil (Truvada, Gilead Sciences) to both treat and prevent HIV infections in this country.

    Medscape reported that while the manufacturer of the generic is Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the leader of an HIV prevention organization told them more generic drug makers are likely to introduce their versions of emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil.

    To read more, click here.

  • United HealthCare Denies PrEP to Gay Man for 'High Risk Homosexual Behavior'
    An insurance company made headlines for denying a gay patient access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis because of what they decree to be his "high-risk homosexual behavior," despite that the medication has been specifically targeted to that demographic.

    An article in the Los Angeles Blade reports that United HealthCare has decided to ignore the Centers for Disease Control, the FDA, scientists and healthcare advocates and deny a gay man coverage for his doctor-prescribed Truvada, an oral medication by Gilead Science.

    To read more, click here.

  • NMAC HIV/STD Action Day Brings Volunteers from Across Country To Lobby Congress
    NMAC's bi-annual HIV/STD Action Day on September 6 brought together nearly 300 advocates and activists from around the nation to ask Congress to stop proposed deep federal budget cuts for HIV services. Action Day will take place the day before the opening of the U.S. Conference on AIDS in D.C.

    "The President's proposed budget would devastate the progress made in the fight against HIV," said NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata. "If passed, this budget would make extreme cuts to programs that guarantee services and coverage for those living with or who are most at risk for HIV. That's why we are convening on the steps of the Capitol this year and taking a stand to ask our elected officials do the right thing and stop budget cuts that would irreparably harm the progress we've already made to end HIV."

    To read more, click here.

  • NMAC Launches New 'Save Our Services' Campaign to Fight Federal Budget Cuts to Vital HIV Services
    NMAC launched "Save Our Services," an innovative campaign created to empower Americans across the country in fighting the proposed federal budget cuts that would cause severe harm to vital HIV treatment and prevention services.

    SOS enlisted the advocacy of community volunteers to contact their representatives in Congress both in their home offices during the August recess and on Capitol Hill for the official "HIV/STD Action Day" on Sept. 6. This Day of Action will precede the opening of NMAC's annual U.S. Conference on AIDS, which ran from Sept. 7-10. More information about "Save Our Services" can be found at

    "We are at a critical point in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The real possibility of ending the epidemic is in sight but only if we continue to use and fund the current tools we already have," said Paul Kawata, Executive Director of NMAC. "Through methods like Treatment as Prevention and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, we have seen drastic reductions in new infections around the country. But that progress is threatened by the cuts proposed by this Administration to HIV/AIDS services. These cuts could lead to a resurgence of HIV in America just as we have found a path to potentially end it."

    To read more, click here.

  • UK Lifts Year-Long Ban on Gay Men Donating Blood
    Men who have sex with men in UK's England, Scotland and Wales can now donate blood without previously having to abstain from sex for a year. The legislation, which was first announced in July, went into effect on November 28.

    NewNowNext report that new regulations now only require a three-month abstinence period before gay and bisexual men can make a blood donation.

    To read more, click here.

  • U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Prevents Trump Administration Efforts to Eliminate LGBTI Rights as U.S. Foreign Policy Priority
    As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin successfully fought to include an amendment to the FY 2018 State Department appropriations legislation to prevent the elimination of two critical offices for ensuring LGBTI rights are a U.S. foreign policy priority.

    "America must lead by example, and eliminating offices that help facilitate LGBTI human rights is not the right example to set," said Senator Baldwin. "I'm proud to have led the fight to reverse the Trump Administration's cuts to these two critical programs. Together, we can continue the march for fairness, freedom and full equality for all."

    To read more, click here.

  • SAGE Relaunches Natl LGBT Elder Housing Initiative Site
    SAGE, the nation's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT elders, has relaunched its National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative website and just published "Understanding the Affordable Housing Development Process: A Primer for LGBT Aging Providers."

    Thanks to founding support from Citi Community Development and the Calamus Foundation, SAGE has made substantial strides toward realizing the goals of its National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative. These include building LGBT-friendly housing, providing LGBT cultural competency trainings, equipping LGBT older people and LGBT-friendly builders with information around innovative housing interventions, and advocating at the state and local levels to end housing discrimination against LGBT older people.

    To read more, click here.

  • 'Dignity Denied: Religious Exemptions and LGBT Elder Services' Report Released
    On Friday, December 15, SAGE, the nation's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT elders, joined The Movement Advancement Project and Columbia Law School's Public Rights/Private Conscience Project in announcing the release of "Dignity Denied: Religious Exemptions and LGBT Elder Services."

    This luncheon and conversation dealt with the report detailing the increased risk of discrimination LGBT older adults face as a result of recent efforts to pass religious exemption laws and policies.

    To read more, click here.

  • Discriminatory Ban Already Harming Transgender Troops and the U.S. Military, Groups Tell Court
    Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN asked a federal court to halt immediately all steps taken to implement the Trump Administration's discriminatory plan to ban transgender individuals from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services.

    "Before the President's vicious attack on transgender Americans, transgender service members had been serving openly and proudly in every branch of the U.S. Military for more than a year," Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said. "Since the President's tweets and his mandate for the Pentagon to implement his ban, those same service members have been branded as unfit to serve -- to do the jobs they have been doing successfully -- simply because they are transgender. That harm is real, it is palpable, and it is discriminatory."

    To read more, click here.

  • Congresswoman Introduces Sexual Health Services for LGBTQ Youth
    Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC)held a press conference at Time Out Youth, a local LGBTQ youth center in Charlotte, NC, to announce the introduction of the Youth Access to Sexual Health Services (YASHS) Act. The bill provides federal funding to expand access to sexual health services and scientifically-based, inclusive sexual health information and support programs that promote sexual health for LGBTQ youth, young people of color, homeless youth, youth in foster care, immigrant youth, and youth in juvenile detention.

    To read more, click here.

  • Boston Pledges to End HIV By 2020
    Before signing the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities at City Hall August 31, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh wanted to make something clear: He's grateful not just for the work of those in his administration who are pushing policies to end the transmission of HIV, but also for the advocacy of the Getting to Zero Coalition.

    "The work you do is so important," Walsh said. "You never know when an outbreak [of HIV] is going to happen potentially, and the stigma around all of this is daunting. So I think we have our work cut out for us here in Boston to set a tone for the rest of Massachusetts and the country."

    To read more, click here.

  • Black AIDS Institute Launches The State of Healthcare Reform in Black America
    On September 6 at the Washington, D.C. Marriott Marquis Hotel, The Black AIDS Institute, in partnership with leading health and policy organizations around the country, invites you to join The State of Healthcare Reform in Black America Policy Pre-Conference at the 2017 United States Conference on AIDS.

    This event will serve as the launch of the Black AIDS Institute's national policy initiative which will focus on healthcare reform and education in the black community. This is our first call to action to raise awareness, educate, and mobilize black communities to respond to the changing political environment.

    To read more, click here.


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