Nation’s HIV Leaders Raise Alarm Over Lack of HIV, STD Mention in HHS Strategic Plan

Nation’s HIV Leaders Raise Alarm Over Lack of HIV, STD Mention in HHS Strategic Plan

Washington, DC – Five of the nation’s leading organizations focused on ending the HIV and STD epidemics in the United States have collectively expressed their grave concern with the lack of focus on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Strategic Plan, FY2018-2022. Despite the crucial importance of the intersectional issues of HIV and STDs, including hepatitis, to our nation’s public health, the report is relatively silent on these issues.  The document contains no mention of other STDs, mentions HIV only twice and hepatitis just once.

This lack of specificity regarding these diseases is of paramount concern, as is the failure to reference even once, the unique health needs of America’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender populations, who bear the greatest burden of the nation’s HIV and STD epidemics.  The report only barely mentions the health needs and disparities facing racial and ethnic minorities.  At the same time, the Plan seems to prioritize faith-based approaches that have the potential to lead to discrimination against religious and sexual minorities.

In comments submitted to HHS, AIDS United, NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors, NMAC, and The AIDS Institute urged the Trump administration to adjust its approach. At a time when STD rates have increased to their highest levels ever and four out of every 10 people living with HIV are not engaged in care, we should be refocusing our national resources on addressing these challenges, not turning our attention away from them. The HHS Strategic Plan is an opportunity to not only reinforce the national goals and priorities of the United States, but it is an opportunity for the United States to effectively plan to end the HIV epidemic and to address the worsening trends in STDs.  Unfortunately, the latest version fails to accomplish either goal.

AIDS United (AU), NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), NMAC, and The AIDS Institute (TAI) are national non-partisan, non-profit organizations focused on ending HIV in the U.S. They have been working in partnership to identify and share resources to sustain successes and progress we have made in HIV and STD prevention, care and treatment in the United States.

Reaction to President’s Opioid Emergency


Leading HIV and STD organizations in the United States are both alarmed by the nation’s growing opioid epidemic and determined to do everything in our power to end it. Thus, we have watched with great interest as President Trump has directed his Secretary of Health and Human Services to declare our nation’s growing opioid epidemic a Public Health Emergency. While we agree that there is a need for a coordinated high-level response to the opioid epidemic, we do not believe that the President’s declaration meets that need.

In addition, our organizations strongly oppose efforts under the Public Health Emergency Declaration to redirect funding from HIV/AIDS programs. By ordering a Public Health Emergency Declaration rather than a Declaration of Emergency, the Administration essentially ensured that agencies and organizations would have to rely on funding that has been repurposed rather than making new funds available.

Instead, this Public Health Emergency Declaration should include specific actions designed to address the infectious disease-related aspects of the epidemic –namely, the rising cases of HIV, other STDs, and hepatitis C related to injection drug use. The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that affects all Americans and all aspects of American life. But because injection drug use can be a means of HIV transmission, addressing it is particularly critical in the fight against HIV, other STDs and hepatitis C. We witnessed the stark consequences of failing to take action in 2015, when injection drug use was the primary factor in the Scott County, Indiana HIV and hepatitis C outbreak, which resulted in more than 200 people becoming infected with HIV and over 400 hepatitis C infections.

Our organizations call on the president to submit an emergency supplemental appropriations request to grant additional funds to local health departments and community-based organizations, which are disproportionately bearing the burden of both the opioid, HIV and hepatitis C epidemics. 

Secondly, additional syringe services programs must be created to simultaneously address overdose deaths and HIV and hepatitis C transmission related to the opioid epidemic. Ninety-three percent of counties vulnerable to HIV infectious outbreaks, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, do not have a syringe service program. It is estimated that in 2014 alone, lack of access to syringe services programs lead to the majority of the over 30,500 new hepatitis C infections and over 3,850 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States.

Additionally, we call for additional funding in order to purchase naloxone for police departments, substance use treatment programs, syringe service programs, and other programs that serve injection drug users. There are widespread reports of jurisdictions and programs having to ration naloxone.

Public health officials and criminal justice advocates agree that we must break from traditional approaches that would treat the opioid epidemic solely as a criminal justice issue or an issue of morality. Therefore, wecall upon the Administration to ensure that funds are not used for these responses. We reject any response that may increase incarceration or perpetuate stigma.

Because of its devastating effects on the fight to end the HIV epidemic and on Americans in general, the opioid crisis must be addressed with a public health and harm reduction approach to protect Americans’ lives and their wellbeing.

It is vital that the Trump Administration establish new funding rather than transferring funds that are already being used to address both public health issues effectively. Agency directors within the Trump Administration should utilize the resources and evidence at their disposal to address the opioid crisis to the fullest extent possible. Our organizations stand in solidarity with all working to end the opioid epidemic and believe that taking strong public health approaches will allow Americans to fully address this public health crisis and also bring us closer to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.

AIDS United (AU), NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), NMAC, and The AIDS Institute (TAI) are national non-partisan, non-profit organizations focused on ending HIV in the U.S. They have been working in partnership to identify and share resources to sustain successes and progress we have made in HIV and STD prevention, care and treatment in the United States.

One Week Left to Register for the 2017 Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit!

We are less than 2 months away from our 2017 Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit. If this year’s USCA was any indication, we know our movement is eager to come together and continue doing the work to end the epidemic. The Summit will highlight the innovations and achievements in biomedical and behavioral sciences in order to engage our movement about the best practices and lessons learned that will ultimately lead to success. We want you to be a part of this intimate and necessary event. Register by November 3 so you can reserve your place for this year’s Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit. Last year was the first time that NMAC had to cut off registration for one of our conferences due to capacity and we expect to do the same this year! As part of this low registration fee of $275 you will receive access to 4 plenary sessions, participation in over 30 workshops, engagement in an intimate exhibit hall, and receive breakfast and lunch each day.

A central goal of this year’s Summit will improve on the successes of last year’s meeting by broadening the focus from just PrEP to include biomedical prevention options. It’s time to think about the expanded integrated role that PrEP, PEP, and Treatment as Prevention (TasP) has in building pathways to ending the epidemic.  Workshops on building comprehensive HIV plans, PrEP in the South, TasP and the Undetectable = Untransmittable movement are just a few of the topics that will be covered. Check out the Summit program and Listing of Workshops online here.

The Summit is a unique meeting that is very different from USCA.  We are keeping those aspects that worked well during the Summit’s first year.  Plenary sessions will continue to be intimate conversations with the audience and will allow for interactive audience dialogue with the panel presenters at the end of the session.  This year we’ve added a small exhibit hall with seating to facilitate important conversations and information sharing.

Stay tuned for information on the conference app launch. The official Summit hashtag is #2017HIVSummit.
We sincerely thank this year’s Summit sponsors for making the meeting possible.


Presenting Sponsor

NMAC Celebrates LGBT History Month

NMAC Celebrates LGBT History Month

I’ve always been a history buff – so much of one that I got my degree in it. So, one of the first things I did when I came out was to learn more about LGBTQ history. And, now, 25 years later, I’m still learning about people, places, and events that are a critical part […]

HIV and STD Organizations Denounce Trump Administration’s Actions to Degrade the Affordable Care Act

HIV and STD Organizations Denounce Trump Administration’s Actions to Degrade the Affordable Care Act

Following repeated legislative defeats to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Trump is taking steps to further sabotage the ACA.  This includes ending cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments to issuers and issuing an executive order that would destabilize the health care marketplace and erode patient protections.

Both actions would have devastating effects on people living with or at risk of HIV and STDs.  Ending the $7 billion in CSR payments would serve to increase premiums and force the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to bear a greater share of insurance costs.  It would drive insurance companies out of the state health care marketplaces and in turn, put the marketplaces out of business.

In addition to this action, President Trump signed an executive order that directs federal agencies to expand association health plans and short-term limited insurance.  Such plans would not have to meet “essential health benefits,” virtually ensuring they will be useless for people with pre-existing conditions, including people living with HIV and STDs.  The executive order creates the opportunity for younger and healthier people to exit the more regulated marketplaces and destabilize the entire insurance market

We urge the courts to end the illegal action to halt payment of the CSRs. We also call on Congress to quickly approve bipartisan legislation to stabilize the marketplace and extend CSR payments. People living with HIV and other STDs, particularly people of color, often face multiple barriers to accessing the care and treatment they need to stay healthy. The President’s actions would only strengthen these barriers, making it even more difficult for these communities most impacted by HIV to receive the care they need.

AIDS United (AU), NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), NMAC, and The AIDS Institute (TAI) are national non-partisan, non-profit organizations focused on ending HIV in the U.S. They have been working in partnership to identify and share resources to sustain successes and progress we have made in HIV and STD prevention, care and treatment in the United States. 

Pray for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

Pray for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands  

Dear Friends and Supporters:
Unprecedented storms have devastated significant portions of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, leaving many residents with little or no access to shelter, clean water, and life-sustaining medications and care. This is especially true for our brothers and sisters living with HIV. For them, every moment is a battle for survival. They are in crisis.Now, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands need help too. Hurricane Maria has demolished homes and facilities across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, leaving much of the islands without power or water. The destruction in these states and U.S. territories demands a rapid response from our community. In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the HIV Hurricane Relief Effort was established to rapidly provide grants to support organizations serving the needs of people living with and affected by HIV in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.Today, we are expanding the scope of our efforts to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. So, we are calling on all our friends and supporters – individuals and organizations – to contribute to the HIV Hurricane Relief Effort here.

AIDS United established the HIV Hurricane Relief Effort as part of the rapid response arm of the new Southern HIV Impact Fund, a collaborative effort coordinated by Funders Concerned About AIDS with generous support from Gilead Sciences, Ford Foundation, Elton John AIDS Foundation, and ViiV HealthcareJohnson & Johnson has just made a major contribution as well. Gilead Sciences has also made an additional $1 million available to the Fund to support immediate assistance to areas affected by the storms. NMAC is partnering with AIDS United by appointing an HIV Hurricane Relief Advisory Panel made up of constituents from the affected regions to identify priority emergency needs for the HIV communities in each area.

Our people and HIV service organizations are in desperate need. Since the announcement of the hurricane relief effort at the U.S. Conference on AIDS, applications have been received from HIV organizations in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico describing the need for millions and millions of dollars to address their emergencies. Applications are being reviewed weekly and funds are being dispersed quickly. Grants have covered everything from housing to food as well as medications and medical care.

The demand for help will soon outstrip current available funds. We don’t need to tell you that this assistance will be the difference between life and death for thousands of people living with HIV in the affected areas. There is no time to lose. Organizations, businesses, and individuals can make donations to the HIV Hurricane Relief Effort here.Questions about the fund should be sent to Melanie Powers, Program Manager at AIDS United, at The communities affected by this year’s hurricanes are part of the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic of HIV. In 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100,000 people with HIV lived in Florida, more than 77,000 in Texas, nearly 19,000 in Louisiana, and more than 17,000 in Puerto Rico.

We must do all we can to help. Now!
Jesse Milan, Jr.       Murray C. Penner        David C. Harvey         Paul Kawata           Michael Ruppal
President, CEO       Executive Director       Executive Director      Executive Director  Executive Director
AIDS United            NASTAD                      National Coalition of   NMAC                     The AIDS Institute
STD Directors

NMAC Announces the Building Leaders of Color (BLOC) 2017-2018 Program

NMAC is looking for people of color living with HIV who are dedicated to leading on HIV issues in their communities to participate in its BLOC program. These leaders must be willing to serve as representatives in their local communities by actively engaging in decision-making processes to ensure services for people of color living with HIV are created and protected.

The 2017-2018 BLOC program will select 90 leaders of color living with HIV who are ages 18 and older. The BLOC program is designed to identify new, emerging, and seasoned leaders of color living with HIV with the goal of cultivating, supporting, and training them to be full, active, and engaged participants on planning bodies, medical and support care teams, boards of directors, and other entities meant to address the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Goals. In the new year, the BLOC Program will host the following comprehensive trainings:

  • One (1) national training for transgender women of color living with HIV.
  • Three (3) regional trainings for people of color living with HIV.
  • NEW!!!BLOC Youth.  One (1) – youth focused leadership program where we will recruit and train young up-and-coming leaders of color living with HIV. This program is designed for those between the ages of 18-24.
  • One (1) Train the Trainer (TOT) Session for selected program graduates and Ryan White Part A & B grantees (applications coming soon)

 Applications for the BLOC program are now being accepted through October 15, 2017. To be considered for the program we encourage you to apply now via the below link.

To learn more about the program, NMAC is offering BLOC Application Introduction Webinars. These webinars are meant to inform you about BLOC programming and expectations. To receive more information about these register at the following link:

October 2, 2017 & October 5, 2017 at 3:00 PM EST

Partner Organizations




What’s in it for You?

Selected participants will:
  • Learn skills and information important to the wellness, leadership, and personal/professional development of people of color living with HIV.
  • Engage in innovative leadership development sessions focusing on national public health trends, policies, and directives focused on impacting the domestic response to HIV.
  • Become part of a growing national community of people living with HIV (PLHIV) dedicated to creating better systems and institutions for PLHIV.
  • Have access to leading national PLHIV coalitions, nonprofit leaders, as well as federal agencies working on behalf of people living with HIV.
  • Receive coaching and mentoring from seasoned PLHIV leaders and gain several other skills and opportunities to support leadership goals.

For additional information and resources for the BLOC Program please visit

Yours in the Struggle,

Linda H. Scruggs MHS, Consultant
Acting Director,  Leadership Pipeline

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under contract number U69HA304700100. This information or content and conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

NMAC Recognizes National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day 

NMAC Recognizes National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

NMAC joins in the observance of the annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAD) today September 18, 2017. Every year, the NHAAD focuses on the challenging issues facing the aging population with regards to HIV prevention, testing, care and treatment.

Based on statistics from the CDC people aged 50 and older accounted for about one half (45%) of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV infection in the United States. Among persons aged 50 to 54, the estimated rate (per 100,000) of HIV diagnoses by race/ethnicity was 59.3% among African Americans/blacks, 23.3% among Hispanics/Latinos, and 8.7% among whites. Of the 6,721 deaths related to HIV in 2014, 2,588 (39%) were among people aged 55 and older. The statistics demonstrate that there is a need, now more than ever, to reach out to the 50+ HIV positive men and women of color in the United States.

Those PLWHIV that are 50 years or olderface increased isolation and of those aging people of color, not only face this isolation but increased stigma, lack of access to care, poverty, and racism. Furthermore, when people living with HIV have achieved viral suppression and HIV is well-controlled, there is a need to be educated about other aging-related conditions. People that age with HIV face comorbidities for which they are in greater risk such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. They also need to be aware of interactions between medications used to treat HIV and those used to treat age-related conditions. That’s why NMAC created the HIV 50+ Strong & Healthy program. HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy seeks to mobilize, engage, and educate people living with HIV who are over the age of 50 on the impact of HIV has on aging people of color.


At the 2017 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA), NMAC had the honor to sponsor 50 extraordinary community advocates that were HIV+ and over 50 years old. Their presence raised awareness about the impact HIV has on the aging population that today currently makes up nearly half of all those living with HIV and in 2020 could represent more than 70% of new HIV diagnoses. For the sponsored advocates, USCA was a coming home experience to network with the community they thought once abandoned them. NMAC is committed to mobilizing the HIV 50+ community, engaging them in building community, and becoming peer educators and advocates. Their resiliency and wisdom is necessary to end the HIV epidemic.  Please read below to see what one of our scholars, Roy Ferguson, shared on Facebook about his experience in the 50+ Strong and Healthy program.

Roy Ferguson / NMAC’s HIV 50+ Strong & Healthy Scholar Brookfield, IL
Am home now and winding down from the US Conference on Aids. Was an amazing 6 days. On Wednesday did legislative visits to Sen Dick Durbin’s office, meet with Tammy Duckworth’s Legislative Assistant, Luis Gutierrez’s Legislative Assistant and a personal meeting with Jan Schakowsky (ok may have misspelled her name). Three and a half days of workshops on HIV and Aging.
On Sunday I got a new t-shirt that I proudly wore all day at Washington DC sights and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This image is from being at the memorial. The shirt really sums up who I am today.”

Moisés Agosto-Rosario



Embargoed for Release: Thursday, September 7, 2017, 9:00 a.m. ET


Chip Lewis, 202.213.8939,                                                                                                Richard Sorian, 202.215-9256,


Sept. 7, 2017 – A $1 million fund to help HIV organizations impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma was announced today at the opening of the 21st annual U.S. Conference on AIDS in Washington, DC. The $1 million is being donated by Gilead Sciences.

The announcement was made at the USCA’s opening plenary as the conference honored those working in communities devastated by the hurricane. Delegates from the affected regions were on stage for the announcement. Grants from these funds are being coordinated by AIDS United in collaboration with NMAC.

“Gilead’s generous contribution will make a tremendous difference for people living with HIV and for organizations serving them that were ravaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” said NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata. “We must make sure that we reach the organizations most in need as rapidly as possible.”

AIDS United will support the administration of the funds as part of the rapid response arm of its new Southern HIV Impact Fund. NMAC will appoint an HIV Hurricane Relief Advisory Panel made up of local community leaders to identify local needs and priorities to support AIDS United grantmaking.

“There is no greater emergency than the devastation of these powerful hurricanes,” said AIDS United CEO Jesse Milan Jr. “We are thankful this rapid grantmaking process is in place and thrilled that Gilead is making available up to $1 million to support relief efforts for the HIV community.”

In addition to the $1 million donation by Gilead Sciences, AIDS United has allocated $150,000 from the Southern HIV Impact Fund. AIDS United today released a request for applications for organizations in the affected communities. The awards will be made on a rolling basis.

“With hurricane-impacted regions facing a long recovery process, it is more important than ever that the critical services provided by HIV organizations in these areas continue to reach those in need,” said Gregg H. Alton, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Medical Affairs, Gilead Sciences. “Gilead, AIDS United, and NMAC are committed to supporting their efforts to restore and maintain programs.”

The U.S. South is an epicenter of the HIV epidemic in the U.S. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of new AIDS diagnoses and deaths occurred in the south. In 2015, Florida ranked first among states in terms of new diagnoses, Texas ranked third, and Louisiana ranked 11th.

“Hurricane Harvey adds a heightened sense of urgency to the organizations serving people living with HIV/AIDS,” said John Barnes, executive director of Funders Concerned About AIDS, which brought together Gilead Sciences and other partners to create the Southern HIV Impact Fund. “We are calling on organizations across the country to join Gilead Sciences and others in supporting the work that must be done to reverse these troubling trends.”

Organizations, businesses and individuals can make donations to the AIDS United Southern HIV Impact Fund at here.

NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced our mission through a variety of programs and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous electronic and print materials, and a website: NMAC also serves as an association of AIDS service organizations, providing valuable information to community-based organizations, hospitals, clinics, and other groups assisting individuals and families affected by the HIV epidemic.

AIDS United’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. through strategic grant-making, capacity building, formative research and policy. AIDS United works to ensure access to life-saving HIV/AIDS care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV/AIDS-related policy for U.S. populations and communities most impacted by the epidemic. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $104 million to local communities, and have leveraged more than $117 million in additional investments for programs that include, but are not limited to HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction and advocacy.



It Broke My Heart

Like many of you, I watched the weekend’s events unfold in Charlottesville with great sadness and disbelief.  White supremacists believe that the color of their skin gives them a privilege in our society.  They hold on to symbols like the swastika and the confederate flag to reaffirm their false narrative that being white makes them superior.

Most of us understand that these beliefs are wrong, vile, and un-American.  Yet the consequences of America’s racial divide are very real.  We are fighting an epidemic where black women are 20 times more likely to get HIV than white women.  Gay men of color, particularly black gay men, are the largest number of people living with HIV in America.  Eighty percent of transgender women diagnosed with HIV were African-American or Latina. Diagnoses among Latino MSM increased 13 percent from 2010 to 2014.

We understand that your skin color does not make you superior, so why and how does your skin color impact your health outcomes?

Our movement talks about the social determinants of health as a way to tiptoe around discussions about race.  Maybe it’s easier to talk about poverty, unemployment, or a lack of education.  NMAC believes those conditions exist because of racism.  Until we address race, racism, and its impact on our nation’s health, we will never end the HIV epidemic in America.

Dr. David Williams from Harvard University will speak at the opening plenary of this year’s United States Conference on AIDS.  Dr. Williams has done some of the definitive work on race and health.  NMAC also invited the People’s Institute to present their ground-breaking teachings on Undoing Racism.  In fact, there is a whole pathway on race.   It’s not enough to be culturally sensitive; the movement needs to understand race and privilege and their impact on health.  It’s time to get rid of our fear of talking about race by talking about race.

We must not shy away.  Whether we want to have it or not, this conversation is happening and sometimes in very destructive ways.  Our movement must lead on race in order for us to end the HIV epidemic.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata