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HIV/AIDS orgs respond to Obama’s HIV/AIDS Strategy

Following release of National HIV/AIDS Strategy

By Antoine Craigwell

(Wednesday, July 14, 2010) – Paul Kawata, executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council, posted on the social networking site, Facebook, a letter signed by 180 national and community organizations at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS. This letter was in response to the announcement and release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) yesterday.

The text of the letter below:

Honorable Barack H. Obama
President, United States Of America
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama,

On behalf of the180 national and community based organizations (see list below) on the front lines of this epidemic, thank you for your leadership and commitment to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Each of us stands here in the footprints of so many heroes we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS. Our friends who fought so hard in the early days could probably never imagine a President holding a reception at the White House to honor the HIV/AIDS community. Most would have loved to be part of this event. We miss them and will never forget the sacrifices they made so that we can be here today.

In the first 18 months of your administration the travel ban on those living with HIV was removed, restrictions on the use of federal funds to support needle exchange were removed, the Ryan White Care Act was reauthorized, and $30.4 Million was set aside as part of the Prevention and Wellness Fund for HIV/AIDS Prevention. However, we’ve also had our challenges in ensuring adequate funding for PEPFAR and other international HIV/AIDS initiatives.

As you implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), we ask that the first thing you address is the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) funding crisis. We appreciate the $25 million to see us through September 30, 2010. We are concerned that is not a long-term solution and will only get us through a limited period. As of Jul 8, 2010, 2,291 individuals are on waiting lists. This number does not include individuals in states that don’t keep waiting lists, have significantly reduced the drug formulary, or have significantly changed the income eligibility levels. On Jul 1, Georgia became the 12th state to close enrollment and start a waiting list. Ohio changed its income eligibility levels so that more then 1,000 HIV/AIDS patients will lose their benefits. New Jersey also changed its income eligibility levels so that 947 HIV/AIDS patients will lose their benefits. Without an immediate solution, other states will follow.

As you consider solutions, please make it [funding for ADAP] multi-year funding through 2014, support states that don’t keep waiting lists but have closed enrollment or that are on the brink of a waiting list, ensure that all the necessary drugs are covered, and [the] integration of a permanent solution into health care reform.

We look forward to the reviewing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the opportunity to work with your administration to ensure its implementation across the country. Thank you for your support and leadership.


2 God B The Glory, Inc     A Brave New Day     A Family Affair

ACT UP Philadelphia     Action for a Better Community    Advocates For Youth

African American Hispanic Health Education Resource Center

AID For AIDS Nevada      AIDS Alabama

AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families

AIDS Care Services, Inc.   AIDS Community Research Initiative of America

AIDS Foundation of Chicago    AIDS/HIV Services Group (ASG)

The AIDS LIFE Campaign   AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin

AIDS Project of Central Iowa     AIDS Resources of Rural Texas

AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition (ATAC)      Albany Damien Center

Amanda Beck-Myers     Ananias      Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Asian Media Access     Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS

Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center

Aspirations Wholistic Tutorial Services     Baton Rouge AIDS Society

Bienestar Human Services    Black AIDS Institute

The Black Women’s Health Imperative     Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Paul Browne       CAEAR Coalition      CALOR

Camden NJ Area Health Education Center (AHEC)

Camillus Health Concern, Inc.    CARES     CareSouth Carolina

Cascade AIDS Project        Central City AIDS Network, Inc.

Central Illinois FRIENDS of People with AIDS

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

William H. Chastang Consumer Advocate/Outreach Coordinator

Christie’s Place, Inc.        Citywide Project/Citywide Ministries

Coai, Inc.       Community Access National Network

Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

Community Information Center, Inc.        Comprehensive Health Education

Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition         DeKalb Prevention Alliance, Inc

Desert AIDS Project         Gregory W. Edwards, EdD

Eternal Hope Community Development Corporation, Inc.

Family Heath & AIDS Care Services International     Family Health Project

Family Planning Association of Puerto Rico        F.L.A.S., INC.

Fort Worth Northside Community Health Center, Inc.

Greater Love Tabernacle    Gregory House Programs    GROUP Ministries, Inc.

Harlem United Community AIDS Center      Harmony House, Inc.

Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation     Hermanas de Luna y Sol    HEROES

HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc.

HIV/AIDS Services for African Americans in Alaska    HIV-AIDS UETS

HIV Care Program       HIVictorious, Inc.

HIV Planning Council Santa Clara County      Housing Works

Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy       Iris House

Johns Hopkins Local Performance Site

PA/MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center

Monica Johnson, NMAC Board Member

Lambda Legal     Lark Lands, M.S., Ph.D.       H.O.P.E.

The LaStraw, Inc.      Latino Commission on AIDS

Latino Community Services

Helen Lemay, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita, Stony Brook University

Liberty Research Group

Don Little, MPH, Former Chair of the Oklahoma Native American AIDS Coalition

The Living Room     LMPHW Specialty Clinic

Love Heals, the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education

Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center

Kentucky HIV/AIDS Advocacy Action Group

Michigan Positive Action Coalition (MI-POZ)

Minnesota AIDS Project

Minority AIDS Council of Orangeburg, Bamberg, and Calhoun Council, Inc.

Missoula AIDS Council             M OCHA Center Inc.

Multicultural AIDS Coalition, Inc.       he NAMES Project/AIDS Memorial Quilt

Native Health             National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.

National AIDS Fund         National AIDS Housing Coalition

National Association of People with AIDS

National Association of Social Workers

National Latino AIDS Action Network          National Minority AIDS Council

National Native American AIDS Prevention Center

NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training

New Jersey Women and AIDS Network        New Destiny Recovery Ministry

New York AIDS Coalition          New York City AIDS Housing Network

Nightsweats & T-cells, Co          North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition

Oklahoma City Indian Clinic         One Heartland       One Love Project

Open Door Clinic        Leonardo Ortega, NMAC Board Member

David G. Ostrow, MD, PhD              Partnership Project

Choyce Perkinds, Advocate For AAHHERC           Positive Efforts, Inc

Project Aware at Stanley Street Treatment & Resources

PROCEED, Inc.      Project HANDLE, Neighborhood House         Project Lazarus

Project Link of South Florida, Inc.       Proyecto SOL Filadelfia

Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Research on AIDS (PR CoNCRA)

Andre Weatherby Rawls     Recovery 2000, Inc.       Redemption Outreach Intl

Regional AIDS Project

Genevieve Rohan, FNP-C, AAHIVMS and Tegest Hailu, MD, AAHIVMS, Hailu/Rohan Family Practice

SAYFSM          Vanessa Sasso, Seattle HIV/AIDS Planning Council


S.H.A.P.E. (Stop HIV/AIDS and Addiction through Prevention and Education)

Carlton R. Smith, Baltimore Black Pride, Inc. Founder, Churches United Against AIDS; Board chair

South Carolina Campaign to End AIDS (SC-C2EA)

South Central Educational Development, Inc.   South Jersey AIDS Alliance

South LA Access Center        Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC)

Southwest Louisiana AHEC         Stanley Street Treatment & Resources

Street Works       St. Luke AME Church/ Treat Me Right Inc.

Suburban HIV/AIDS Consortium (SHAC)

TACTS-THE Association of Clinical Trials Services

Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan           C. Taylor

Ti-chee Native AIDS Prevention Project          Rose Todd-Stanford

Total Health Awareness Team            Treat Me Right Inc.

Treatment Access Expansion Project          Treatment Action Group

Two Spirit Society of Denver            U Can Do It 2!

Evelyn Ullah, NMAC Board Member            Us Helping Us

Valley AIDS Information Network Inc.

Vermont CARES        VillageCare

Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge

West County Health Centers, Inc.             Who’s Positive          Willis Center

The Women’s Collective      Women’s Health Center

Women Together For Change           Women Watch Afrika, Inc


July 14, 2010 Posted by | African-American News, Black Gay Men, Black Gay Men Health, Black Men, Black Men Health, Caribbean, Caribbean Community, community, Elderly LGBT, Health, HIV, HIV Status, LGBT community, LGBT Immigrant rights, LGBT Rights, LGBT Seniors, Male Health, Obama, Politics, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Status Is Everything

Knowing means better decisions, choices, and responsibilities

By Antoine Craigwell

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and for many young Black men in the city of Newark, NJ, being aware of their HIV status is taking responsibility and making choices, for themselves and for others.

In 2001, the African-American Office of Gay Concerns (AAOGC), an inner city community-based organization was founded by Gary Paul Wright, its current executive director, to address the needs of the Black gay community in Newark, NJ with a slogan, “Status Is Everything.” Using its own tagline, the organization embarked on an ambitious promotional campaign to encourage Black gay men in their early teens to middle 20s to be tested, get to know their HIV status, and be able to make choices in their lives that are more informed.

The “Status Is Everything” campaign blitz, which cost approximately $35,000, was launched with an all day event at the Newark City Hall on Thursday, Feb 4. As a campaign, it would feature images of young Black men on posters placed inside and outside Newark city buses and the city’s Light Rail, on a Washington Street billboard, use social media, and in public service announcements on cable television and in the movie theaters; to encourage other young men to be tested and know their HIV status.

At a conference for African-American men, Wright said, he noticed that there was no organization taking up the cause of fighting for these men, “Status is everything is my brainchild and it is more than the tag line to the organization. It began in my kitchen with my partner and six other friends.”

Funded by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), and from the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control, the effectiveness of the “Status Is Everything” campaign is monitored by a team led by Anne Dey, Ph.D., program development administrator with the HIV Prevention Community Planning Support and Development Initiative of Rutgers University, whose department would be tracking the numbers of young men who go to any one of three testing locations around the city and reporting to the state. The testing locations include St. Michael’s on Central Avenue, UMDNJ Rapid Testing Center, and the NJCRI HIV Counseling and Testing Team.

Unlike other campaigns, this exercise makes use of contemporary technology, including YouTube, Twitter, and FaceBook: someone could text, using his cell phone, to one of the locations and receive instructions to the nearest testing site. If a person does not have access to a cell phone, he could call the number on the posters and receive testing locations and information.

The fact that from start to finish researchers and campaign planners listened to what the target population had to say made the project exciting, Dey said, “When the billboard went up in Washington Street, we got word that someone saw it and went to a testing center to be tested.”

According to Wright, the AAOGC staff waded through streams of data on the numbers of young Black men who are HIV positive, and as a practical project, moved beyond his kitchen. After five focus groups had met and examined the best and most effective manner of reaching the target audience, including messaging, encouraging young men to get tested, and reviewing six competitive bids; contracts were signed in October 2009 with FEMWORKS, LLC, a Newark, NJ-based public relations firm, and Robert Penn Productions, a NYC-based film production company, to develop and promote the “Status Is Everything” campaign, which is scheduled to run until Jun 2010.

Following an evaluation and depending on the responses and effectiveness of the campaign, Wright said, the AAOGC would approach the state and the CDC about continuing it in Newark and expanding it to other cities.

“If there is an increase in the numbers of young men who get tested and we see this through anyone of the modes, it could be replicated in other parts of the state. But, if there is no increase, then we would ask what did we do wrong, where we failed, and it would be lessons learned exercise,” Dey said.

In support of the slogan, “Status Is Everything,” driving the campaign and giving it a reason, a Jun 30, 2009 New Jersey HIV/AIDS Report, ( states that as recently as of the middle of last year, Black men who have sex with men (MSM) – an estimated 25,899 –  accounted for close to one-fifth, 19.5 percent, or 5,048 of the accumulated reported HIV cases.

As a demonstration and a more comprehensive understanding of the significance of the impact of HIV on the state, the report included those MSMs identified as injection drug users (IDUs), who make up close to 4.46 percent or 1,155 of the overall population. Against the statewide numbers, of an estimated, 11,132 Black men living with HIV, approximately 24 percent or 2,654 are MSM, and 3.43 percent or 381 are MSM-identified IDUs.

Drilling down from the state to the county level, the report stated that of the13, 552 HIV/AIDS cases in Essex County, (, Blacks were 77 percent or 10, 451 of that population, of which 20 percent or 2,714 were MSMs, and 4.52 percent or 613 were categorized as MSM-IDUs. In Essex County, Newark tops a list of cities in the state with more than 100 HIV/AIDS cases with 13,744 cases.

In Newark, ( Blacks were 74.50 percent or 2,537 of the 3,405 people living with HIV. Of the numbers in Newark, the men living with HIV with the highest numbers are those 35 to 44 years old, who make up 25 percent or 840 men, and 38 percent or 1,277,  who are between 45 to 54 years of age.

“This is the most professional emerging campaign I’ve seen in a long time and I’ve heard from a lot of clients that they have seen it,” said Dey.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | African-American News, Black Gay Men, Black Gay Men Health, Black Men, Black Men Health, community, Health, HIV, HIV Status, LGBT community, Male Health, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment