photo by Miriam Y. Vega

We are still in the midst of an HIV epidemic and we must not forget this: bring the ice bucket on

We are still in the midst of an HIV epidemic and we must not forget this: bring the ice bucket on

Growing up in the South Bronx I saw many individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS, although I was a bit young to understand that. However, it stayed in my consciousness and in my social justice vein. In college, HIV  was not a major concern for the overall population. However, it was still forefront on my personal advocacy front.

There was a time of increased HIV activism by the public at large and then that grand spotlight on HIV was a bit dimmed. Nowadays we are talking about reaching a worked without AIDS. However, by most scientist and politician accounts this can be achieved by 2030. Thus, lately while there is an urgency to get to zero new infections, we are still in the midst of an HIV epidemic. We must not forget this.

In the beginning of the epidemic, as a country, we were trying to grapple with the disease. In trying to grapple with the emerging epidemic back then we knew we needed more research and a stronger response. We have gotten there in terms of scaling up interventions and resources. However, while  the number of cases are evening there is also a change in the number of new infections and the key populations being impacted. One may argue more and more that HIV does discriminate. Those at social margins, who lack ready access to care are indeed being impacted. We must not forget about the marginalized.

Do we need an ice bucket challenge to give us a cold wake up call that HIV is still with us?  Who wants to take a cold splash to reach a world without AIDS?

Post by Miriam Y. Vega, PhD;  @miriamyvega

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Blog Ruben Who we are

Who we are, how people see us?

The 4th of July weekend was a great time to disconnect from the routine, spend time with myself and hang out with good friends. What a better way than having brunch in the morning and drinks at night. For a foreign person who is living by himself in another country and away from his family, friends become family. This means they know all the good and bad in my life.

While we were having drinks, we started talking about deeper topics such as personal experiences in life. One of my friends talked about a terrible experience he had on a date where he felt emotionally attacked by a guy who had bad overall impression of him, based on personal characteristics; what were those characteristics? Living in Chelsea, being in shape and caring about fashion. Based on these three elements, the guy told him (in a funny way) that he was a “Chelsea Boy”. My friends immediately asked him what that was. The guy defined this as a shallow, cocky and promiscuous person. But that wasn’t the first time that he had to hear that from people on dates. Continue reading

The 49th Anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare

This week marks the 49th Anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare. On July 30th, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare Bill into Law at the Harry S. Truman Library in order to improve the state of health care in the United States. Forty-five years later the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, but the hopes for Americans have not changed much since 1965.  Back  then, President Johnson noted,

“No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts.”[1]

 Today, after four years of the signage of the Affordable Care Act, we still have American families that are not accessing the medical care they need because of lack of health insurance and the means to do so. The Deep South States are especially impacted as health outcomes continue to worsen and health disparities and poverty continue to increase.  In part this problem continues to exist because there are still states that have not expanded Medicaid.

Increase in Number of People with Insurance if Deep South States Expands Medicaid[2]
States that have not Expanded Medicaid (July 2014) People with Insurance Coverage in 2016
Alabama 235,000
Florida 848,000
Georgia 478,000
Louisiana 265,000
Mississippi 165,000
North Carolina 377,000
South Carolina 198,000
Tennessee 234,000
Texas 1,208,000

 

We must set a goal in order to reach Johnson’s original vision.  It would be so grand for our health system and overall well-being if we were to have Medicaid expanded in the 24 remaining states.  It would be to our collective benefit to cover all 5.7 million Americans who would be eligible for Medicaid but are currently deprived of health care.  I hope that for the 50th Anniversary, we will be celebrating the expansion of Medicaid in our home states in the South.

[1] Lyndon B. Johnson: “Remarks With President Truman at the Signing in Independence of the Medicare Bill.,” July 30, 1965. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=27123.

[2] Excerpts taken from Buettgens M. Kenney GM, and Recht H. “Eligibility for Assistance and Projected Changes in Coverage Under the ACA: Variation Across States.” Washington, DC. Urban Institute, 2014, http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/413129-Eligibility-for-Assistance-and-Projected-Changes-in-Coverage-Under-the-ACA-Variation-Across-States.pdf

Written By: Judith Montenegro.

Where are We Headed? IAC 2014 theme of the day.

As the International AIDS Conference wraps up in Melbourne, Australia we are asked to ponder “Where are we headed?” Our CBA Specialists shine some light on where they believe the HIV field is moving henceforth… Use the comments section below to let us know where YOU think the HIV/AIDS field is going to!

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Stepping Up the Pace: IAC 2014 theme of the day.

In-Home HIV Test and an HIV Free Generation

Today’s theme at the IAC2014 is “Stepping up the Pace.” This theme seems to me like the perfect call to action that we all should heed to. The new biomedical interventions like PrEP and treatment as prevention have been making headlines all over the world. There is no denying that the science community has been active doing their share of the bargain. What about us, the general community? Continue reading