February 9, 2022
This week, the Academy and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) co-hosted a legislative briefing for Members of Congress and their staff to commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The Congressional panelists included Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus; Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), sponsor of the HELP Act; and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who spoke about the Minority AIDS Initiative. Members of Congress spoke of the many important pieces of legislation that have been introduced to address some of the challenges of HIV prevention and treatment, including the need for additional funding and more political will within Congress necessary to move these initiatives forward. Our expert panel included Grazell R. Howard, JD, Chair of the Black AIDS Institute; Esther O. Fasanmi, PharmD, BCIDP, BCPS, AAHIVP, representing the American Academy of HIV Medicine; Michelle S. Cespedes, MD, MS, Chair-Elect of the HIV Medicine Association; Aaron Johnson Levy, actor-host-writer-producer; and Jesse Milan, Jr., JD, President & CEO of AIDS United. This panel of experts highlighted the work being done to reduce HIV in Black and African American communities and where we still need to go to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. It was a truly inspiring conversation.
As background, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) was first established in 1999 and is observed annually to increase awareness, spark conversations, highlight the work to reduce HIV in Black or African American communities, and show support for people with and at risk for HIV in these communities. The briefing was intended to address the need to continue the NBHAAD legacy of increasing awareness, sparking conversations, and highlighting the work being done to reduce HIV in Black communities in the United States. The event was exceptionally well attended with over 100 people watching live and participating in this important discussion.
If you were not able to participate in the webinar, you can view it here at any time. Through this briefing, we are encouraging congressional staff to take action by having their office cosponsor the HELP Act (H.R. 2295), the REPEAL Act (H.R.6111), the PrEP Assistance Program Act (H.R. 5605), the PrEP Access and Coverage Act (H.R. 6117, S.3295), and the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Resolution (H.Res.911). Academy members and members of the public can also connect with their Members of Congress and ask them to support these bills. Each are described here. By supporting these bills, we are closer to improving the HIV clinical workforce, eliminating discrimination with respect to people with HIV, increasing access for PrEP, and raising awareness of HIV-related issues impacting the Black/African American communities.
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