The White House Office of National AIDS Policy seeks input from groups and individuals to help shape a National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
The Obama administration is seeking input from groups and individuals as it develops a National HIV/AIDS Strategy to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The administration has identified three broad goals for that national strategy: 1) to reduce HIV incidence; 2) to increase access to care and optimize health outcomes for people living with HIV and 3) to reduce HIV-related health disparities.
Protecting the civil and human rights of people with HIV/AIDS must be a central part of a National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Lambda Legal and allied HIV civil rights organizations submitted a list of 15 critical civil rights issues for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States that the new federal administration must address. Although the administration has made progress on several of these items, much remains to be done on these and other important issues.
The Obama administration needs to hear from community members like you about what should be included in the national strategy. Please submit your comments on or before November 13. You can also attend a town hall meeting during November or December.
The following are examples of important national HIV/AIDS issues that we believe must be included in the national strategy:
1. Combat government policies which criminalize consensual sex and other behaviors of people living with HIV. Criminalizing conduct based on HIV status stigmatizes people with HIV and is a barrier to HIV testing, because only those who know they have HIV are subject to prosecution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should distribute information about HIV transmission risks and myths to criminal justice personnel, state health departments, and the general public. The Department of Justice should issue guidance discouraging prosecutions in the absence of a specific intent to transmit HIV.
2. Revise approaches to HIV testing to reflect the value to patients of providing specific written consent and receiving meaningful information before and after testing. The number of people who learn their HIV status and are linked to care needs to be increased through testing that is voluntary, informed and consensual. The CDC should encourage programs that meet that patient-centered standard.
3. Provide immigrant detainees with confidential, timely and effective access to HIV treatment. There are significant deficiencies in HIV care for immigrant detainees. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should take steps to both ensure the adequacy of care for immigrant detainees and increase the accountability of detention facilities for compliance failures. In addition, DHS should add nondiscrimination provisions to its detention standards and promote alternatives to detention for immigrant detainees with HIV.
Your input is invaluable to developing a National HIV/AIDS Strategy that protects the rights of people with HIV/AIDS.