The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced this week that it has expanded coverage to include one, annual voluntary screening for HIV infection for all adolescent and adult Medicare beneficiaries between the ages of 15 and 65, without regard to perceived risk. Coverage for pregnant Medicare beneficiaries will remain unchanged.
Each year on May 19, we take time to reflect on the impact of the HIV epidemic on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). This includes listening to members of AAPI communities as they discuss how HIV has affected their lives and the lives of those they care about. Recently, my team asked our colleagues at The Banyan Tree Project, the group that sponsors National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, for their top reasons why it is so important to respond to HIV in AAPI communities. From their concerns, I offer this synthesis:
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will transform healthcare in America. Is your mix of services aligned with what will be funded? As we get closer to the start of enrollment and implementation of the ACA, the federal government has started to examine how their programs will compliment and not duplicate ACA services.
This is a watershed week for the LGBT community and its allies. The Supreme Court is considering two cases on marriage equality -- the first a challenge to California's Proposition 8 and the second a challenge to Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Considerable -- and merited -- attention has been devoted to the fairness, dignity, and equality at stake in these cases. And while these reasons alone should be sufficient to ensure same-sex couples' right to marry, it is important to note that marriage equality also promotes LGBT health and strengthens our ability to combat HIV/AIDS.
First, let me say that the thoughts and prayers of everyone here at NMAC are with those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Our own offices suffered some fairly significant water damage from the storm, but we were extremely lucky that our area was not more heavily impacted. We wish everyone a safe and speedy recovery.
Let me start by qualifying my level of expertise. I have been a lawyer, but not for more than ten years, so I am reading these two judgments with a strange mix of past legal training, current political commitment and the often paranoid eye of someone who could be directly affected by it. If you're willing to swallow that (couldn't help myself), then feel free to read on and agree or disagree with me. For more rigorous legal analysis, I would suggest the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida or the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario.
This morning the Supreme Court of Canada released their decision on two cases about HIV disclosure and criminal law that will influence criminal cases in the future.
Last year Secretary Hillary Clinton called for the U.S. to demonstrate leadership and bring about "an AIDS-free generation." On World AIDS Day 2011, President Obama announced a deepened U.S. commitment to fighting the pandemic, declaring "make no mistake, we are going to win this fight." Now it's time to incorporate Treatment as Prevention (TasP) into these efforts. We need bold leadership. We may not have all the answers, but we have enough science to start planning to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America.
Next week, the White House is hosting the next in its series of conferences on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and the topic of focus will be HIV/AIDS. Hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Office of National AIDS Policy in partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine, the conference will take place on Thursday, April 19, 2012 from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
As the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, it is my honor to join Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, in announcing the next step in President Obama's commitment to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst women and girls. Please read on for more details.