Updating the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Vote for the Recommendations Most Vital to Women with HIV!

Can you believe it’s been almost FIVE YEARS since the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) was released in July 2010? The NHAS is a plan created under President Obama to comprehensively address the domestic HIV epidemic. The first NHAS included four main goals: 1) reducing the number of new HIV infections 2) increasing access to care for people living with HIV 3) addressing population-level disparities in prevention, care and treatment and 4) improving coordination of HIV programs and funding across federal agencies. The first NHAS addressed some issues which are really important to women with HIV, including repealing HIV criminalization laws and expanding employment opportunities for people with HIV. But it missed the boat on others – failing to mention sexual and reproductive healthcare for people with HIV, failing to talk about the high rates of trauma and violence that impact women with HIV, and not meaningfully addressing the specific needs of transgender women. Now, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) is soliciting input for the next National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which will be released this summer. This new Strategy (NHAS 2.0) will help to guide priorities for the domestic epidemic, likely for the next five years – which means it will go into the next Administration. It’s critically important that the voices of women with HIV and those who care about us are heard in this process. The deadline to provide input ends this Friday, May 22nd. Here’s how to provide input: 1. Go to: https://nhas.uservoice.com You can enter your email address to create a profile. 2. You will see that the opportunity to provide input is grouped into “feedback forums” according to the four goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. You can click on any of the feedback forums to see which ideas have already been proposed. 3. Once you have access to a profile, you have two options: a. Vote for a recommendation that has already been proposed b. Propose a new recommendation You can do both of these. Note that you get 25 votes per feedback forum. You can vote for multiple recommendations, and you can also cast more than one vote per recommendation. There are a lot of good recommendations already proposed in the forum. Also, a few weeks ago, PWN-USA released our own top five recommendations for the next National HIV/AIDS Strategy. In line with PWN-USA’s policy agenda and NHAS recommendations, here are just a few of the recommendations which have been proposed on ONAP’s forum that we think are really important. Click the links below to read more about each one. Starred (***) items are drawn from PWN-USA’s five top recommendations! 1. Reducing new HIV infections a. Lift the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange 2. Increasing access to care & improving health outcomes for people living with HIV (PLHIV) a***. Develop a minimum standard of care for PLHIV which includes sexual and reproductive healthcare, trauma-informed care, supportive services, and more. b. Ensure gender-responsive, trauma-informed, coordinated and comprehensive care (this is very similar to the one above). c***. Announce a national initiative focused on addressing inequity in access to care and poor health outcomes among Black women living with HIV d***. Launch a national initiative to enhance culturally relevant prevention and care for transgender women e. Ensure that PLHIV have access to healthy food: “Food as Medicine” f. Increase and prioritize funding for services that link PLHIV into care g. Preserve and support women-focused community-based HIV organizations h. Integrate the work of the Federal Interagency Working Group on HIV and Violence against Women into the NHAS by instituting metrics on addressing trauma and violence 3. Addressing disparities and health inequities a***. Fund research and development of women-controlled HIV prevention tools b. Mandate comprehensive sex education in schools, and eliminate support for abstinence-only education c. Eliminate state-level HIV criminalization laws Are you excited yet? Ready, set, go vote before this Friday, May 22! (https://nhas.uservoice.com)

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