August 17, 2012
At a two-day HIV/AIDS conference this week in Lexington, an AIDS advocate pushed for better communication about health care reform among health care providers, advocates and the state.
According to Amy Killelea, senior manager for health care access at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, now is the time for advocates to let state legislators and the Kentucky office of Health Care Reform know what they need as part of health care reform.
Kentucky is one of 16 states in the process of creating health care exchanges to provide new insurance options. Killelea said it is important to make sure, for example, that antiretrovirals are covered at a reasonable cost under the benefits plan. Health reform offers the promise that many of the roughly 8,000 Kentuckians with HIV/AIDS will have health insurance for the first time, replacing "a patchwork system with many, many holes and gaps," Killelea added.
The conference theme was "Turning the Tide Together." According to Sigga Jagne, manager of the HIV/AIDS branch in the Kentucky Department of Public Health, these words matter. She said that even though the number of HIV/AIDS patients in Kentucky is relatively small, prevention and early testing are vital.
Jagne pointed out that people may have outdated perceptions regarding who is affected. While male-to-male sexual contact accounts for about 65 percent of total current cases in the state, the number of women infected -- chiefly through heterosexual exposure -- continues to grow.