This Week in Washington
Focus on Minority Health Continues on Capitol Hill
On Tuesday, April 30, the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust hosted a briefing on "Improving Health Care Quality for Minority Americans: Data Policies, Consumer Perspectives and Cultural and Linguistic Competency." This briefing follows the CBC Spring Braintrust which reported on the status and progress of the Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and reports by the Institute of Medicine Report, "Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care" and by the Commonwealth Fund, "Minority Health in America: Findings and Implications."
Senate Committee Overwhelmingly Supports Nominee
Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
held a hearing to interview the President's nominee, Elias Zerhouni, to be Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), within the Department of Health and Human Services. Addressing concerns of the Committee regarding diversity within the agency, recruitment of talented research scientists, and a variety of questions regarding his vision for NIH during his proposed tenure, Mr. Zerhouni received overwhelming bipartisan support from the Committee. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Chair of the Committee, announced during Tuesday's hearing that a positive recommendation from the Committee would immediately follow with a possible floor vote within a week. For more information: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11965-2002Apr30.html
In a 35-17 vote on Wednesday, April 24, 2002, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved a proposal to continue teaching abstinence-only to teenagers through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Act and other programs within this year's welfare reform reauthorization. The proposal, which would cost $50 million per year for the next five years, is being incorporated into a larger welfare reform package and is expected to reach the floor of the House for a vote early next month. House leadership offices are reporting that they hope to have welfare reform legislation finalized and passed before the Memorial Day recess, which begins May 27th.
The passage of this provision follows the release of a preliminary report by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., an independent research firm, which reaffirms concerns from the HIV/AIDS advocacy community and many others, that despite claims by abstinence-only advocates, there is no reliable evidence that these programs are effective in reducing teen sex, pregnancy or the transmission of disease. The final report from the evaluation is scheduled for summer 2005. To learn more about this study: http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/3rdLevel/abstinencehot.htm. To read the Committee Print of the provision or to learn more about the April 24 mark-up: http://energycommerce.house.gov/107/markups/04242002Markup546.htm.
AIDS Action has endorsed The Family Life Education Act which would provide $100 million in block grants to the states to support sex education that includes medically accurate messages about both abstinence and contraception. The Family Life Education Act, introduced by Congresswoman Patsy Mink (HI-2nd), also provides for enhancing parent-child communication, developing decision-making and negotiation skills and providing education from a public health approach. AIDS Action is currently urging members of the Senate Finance Committee to expand the current abstinence-only funding included in the welfare reauthorization legislation to allow greater state flexibility to fund sex education and HIV/STD programs that teach both abstinence and contraception. To learn more about this important legislation, visit AIDS Action's Legislative Action Center at www.aidsaction.org.
Tax Cut for Charitable Donations Faces Obstacles
The Senate Finance Committee is currently reviewing a proposal to offer a tax break for individuals and families who do not itemize other deductions and contribute to charitable organizations. The provision, a part of Senate bill S. 1924 and sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), would allow up to $400 for individuals and $800 for families to be deducted. While the bill is supported by a number of members on the Committee as well as the Administration's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, a number of members have concerns with the high cost which is estimated at $8 billion over two years.
One of the most significant challenges facing the HIV/AIDS community is their ability to maintain adequate levels of funding to continue offering life saving treatments and care. While the unmet need grows, available funds to meet those needs are dwindling. Charitable donations, traditionally a reliable source of funds for the HIV/AIDS service community, have been diverted to service organizations focused on the September 11 tragedy. To learn more about the bill: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:SN01924:@@@D&summ2=m&
AIDSWatch 2002 -- Grassroots Participation Needed From Key States
Preparation for AIDSWatch 2002 -- June 9-11 in Washington, DC -- is well underway. To date, over 400 registrations have been received at the AIDSWatch office. Strong grassroots participation in AIDSWatch can have a significant impact on the appropriations process. While all members of Congress play an important role in the appropriations process, among the most important Senators and Representatives to reach during AIDSWatch are the members of the Senate and House Labor-Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittees.
Strong representation from the following states are key to reaching the members of these important subcommittees: Alaska*; California; Connecticut*; Florida; Hawaii*; Idaho*; Illinois; Iowa*; Kentucky*; Louisiana*; Maryland; Mississippi*; Nevada*; New Hampshire*; New York; Ohio; Oklahoma*; Pennsylvania*; Rhode Island*; South Carolina*; Texas*; Washington; West Virginia*; and Wisconsin*
Those states marked with an * do not yet have a significant number of participants.
For more information about AIDSWatch 2002 registration information: www.aidsaction.org or you can contact Darin Johnson at AIDS Action: 202-530-8030 x3024, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the News
New HIV Reporting in NY Results in Alarming Statistics
On April 27, the New York Newsday reported a shift in HIV cases which heavily impacts minorities and youth. Data collected and compiled between June 2000 and December 2000 revealed that there were 2,145 people in the city who found out they were HIV positive, of which 1,713 people were black, Latino or Asian. Of the 3,497 newly diagnosed AIDS cases over the same period, 2,824 cases (81%) were in those same communities. Statewide, there were 16,866 people identified with HIV or AIDS. Of those, 2,817 (17%) people were newly diagnosed with HIV and 5,013 (30%) people were diagnosed, for the first time, with full-blown AIDS.
The new reporting system allows for HIV cases to be reported, giving the State Health Department a more realistic picture of the status of HIV/AIDS in New York. Prior to the implementation of the new reporting system on June 1, 2000, only diagnosed cases of AIDS were reportable to the State Health Department. Due to the length of time between initial infection with HIV and the development of AIDS, frequently more than ten years, data limited to diagnosed AIDS cases fail to provide the State with an accurate picture of the current incidence of HIV/AIDS. To read the report from the New York State Department of Health: http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/commish/2002/partner.htm.
Minorities Underrepresented in Clinical Trials
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine
(May 2, 2002) found that African American and Hispanic patients are underrepresented in HIV clinical studies of new treatments and experimental drugs. The study found that African Americans make up 33% of adults receiving HIV care, but only 23% of clinical studies and Hispanics make up 15% of HIV patients and 11% of clinical studies. This is a significant concern for the larger HIV population because we must ensure that any treatments or drugs are going to be effective on the all HIV infected patients. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18539-2002May1.html
Applications Requested -- Ryan White CARE Act Title III Planning Grant
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resource and Services Administration and HIV/AIDS Bureau has grant funds available to plan for the establishment of primary care services. A portion of the funding for the planning grant program is sponsored by the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative to address unmet needs of communities of color. The Year 2002 Planning Grant Program supports public and private nonprofit entities in their planning efforts to develop high quality primary health care services for people living with HIV/AIDS or at risk of infection in rural, underserved communities, and/or communities of color. In FY 2002, HRSA/HAB anticipate awarding 90 planning grants. Applications are due by May 31, 2002. For more information or a grant application: http://hab.hrsa.gov/grants/2002PlanningGrant_files/02planninggrants.htm
New SPNS Grant Initiative Announced for Information Technology in HIV Care
The Health Resources Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) Offices have announced a new grant opportunity under the Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) initiative. In a collaborative process with the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ), these grants will seek to improve the impact and quality of care for people living with HIV through Information Technology. The grant program, operated through the AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETCs) evaluates the effectiveness of Information Technology (IT) to improve the delivery and quality of care to underserved HIV infected individuals. There are three areas of emphasis: (1) optimizing the delivery of health care; (2) optimizing outcomes and quality of health care; and (3) assessing the cost-effectiveness of IT interventions. Grants will be awarded for a four-year period and the application deadline is June 12, 2002. For more information: http://hab.hrsa.gov/grants/itguidancefinal.htm
New Community-Based Dental Partnership Grant Initiative Announced
The Health Resources Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) Offices have announced a new grant opportunity under the Dental Reimbursement Program. These grant opportunities are designed to increase the access to oral health care for people living with HIV in community-based settings, and to provide support, education and training of students and residents enrolled in accredited dental education programs while providing care for people living with HIV under the supervision of a dentist in a community based setting. Funds will be awarded to up to 20 institutions including dental schools, post-doctorate programs and schools of dental hygiene for up to three years. Preference for funding will be given to proposals advocating partnerships in un-served and underserved communities and in areas where HIV positive populations have unmet oral health needs. Applications are encouraged from organizations that utilize multi-partner community-based collaborations and develop innovative programs. The application deadline for the Community-Based Dental Partnership grants is June 14, 2002. For more information: http://hab.hrsa.gov/grants/dental02.htm
HIV/AIDS-Related Cable Programming Funding Available From Cable Positive
Cable Positive, which seeks to use the resources of the cable industry to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and compassion, makes funds available through its Tony Cox Fund for Local HIV/AIDS Programming to fund the production of HIV/AIDS-related cable programming, including public service announcements. Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, with special consideration given to AIDS service organizations and cable systems and producers partnering with them. Grants range from $500 to $20,000. Applications are due June 7. For more information: http://www.cablepositive.org/programs-tonycox.html
or contact Jesse Giuliani at 212-459-1547 or email@example.com
This Mother's Day -- Don't Forget Your Mother and AIDS Action!
AIDS Action has partnered with Proflowers.com
. When you order flowers through the Proflowers.com link on the AIDS Action website, you will not only receive beautiful flowers and plants shipped directly from their grower but you will also help support AIDS Action. Ten percent of all sales go to helping AIDS Action advocate for those who are affected by HIV/AIDS throughout the United States.
On Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12, make your mom smile with some flowers while also supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS. Visit www.aidsaction.org
and click directly on the link to Proflowers.com at the bottom of the main page. For questions, please contact AIDS Action at (202) 530-8030 or firstname.lastname@example.org
AIDS Action Board Member Highlight
The AIDS Action Council Board of Directors consists of local HIV/AIDS service providers throughout the United States. Each week, the Update will highlight one of these service providers and the work they are doing to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their region.
AIDS Services Foundation (ASF) is committed to providing quality care, education and advocacy to men, women and children in Orange County (California) affected by HIV disease. To that end each client served starts with a comprehensive needs assessment by an interdisciplinary case management team member. Based on the client's needs, these professionals develop an individual care plan -- a personal strategy for living with HIV -- and coordinate the delivery of services. These services include, but are not limited to: benefits counseling, emergency financial assistance, chemical dependency counseling, family and children's programs, a food pantry, mental health services, home health and volunteer support, prevention education, transportation services and support. As you can see at ASF, the needs of the total individual are served.