2022 Wrap Up

2022 was NMAC’s 35th anniversary and another one for the record books. This is my regular yearend wrap-up and request for support. I hope you will consider donating.

No one had MPox or the Supreme Court in their plans at the start of the year. NMAC, like so many, had to pivot to address these new unwanted challenges. The link to NMAC is the agency’s commitment to the communities hardest hit by HIV. Unfortunately, we sit at the intersection of everything the radical right hates. They are using HIV PrEP to throw the Affordable Care Act into chaos. Our work is the target of their bigotry and discrimination. The 5th Circuit is their pathway to SCOTUS and our movement must work with other movements to stop them. The issues are much bigger than HIV; however, the Christian Right choose PrEP as the trojan horse to backdoor the ACA. NMAC is concerned about their challenge to the way the Prevention Task Force members are appointed. We hope there is an administrative fix.

Monkeypox in the US was reported just last May. Like HIV in the early days, it mainly impacted sexually active gay and bisexual men, particularly Black and Latinx gay men. Thankfully there was a vaccine. Using an innovative solution that allowed one dose of vaccine to help up to five people, the number of new cases dropped, particularly for White and Latinx gay men. Unfortunately, that was not the same for Black gay and bisexual men. Like HIV, this is another inequity that must be addressed. I am concerned the White House’s announcement will turn MPox into another unfunded sexually transmitted disease. Health departments, STD, and HIV agencies will argue about responsibility and community will not get the services they desperately need. It’s time for systemic solutions that are based and led by the communities being impacted. NMAC calls on the White House, HHS, and CDC to return a portion of the Minority AIDS Initiative back to its original congressional intent.

This year the radical right played their hand. Justice Thomas clearly laid out his agenda for state attorneys general. Their strategy is much bigger than Roe. They want to reshape America and HIV sits at the intersection of everything they hate. Most of you know me. I’m not crazy, and this email sounds a little insane. I’m our canary in a coal mine that warns the movement about impending challenges. I hope I’m wrong.

With all these new challenges, our efforts to end the HIV epidemic have stalled. The STD numbers are bad. Gay men, people of color, and youth continue to experience higher levels of syphilis and gonorrhea. I’m not saying this to sex shame anyone. In fact, I think we need to put the sex back into our HIV, STD, and Hepatitis prevention programs. Mark your calendars now for the 2023 Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit, April 11-12 in Las Vegas. We can’t let fears about retaliation stop us from doing our jobs and that includes America’s sexual and reproductive health.

Everything is piling on and the world sometimes feels out of control. We did not want it, we do not choose it, but there is a war coming and HIV is in the middle. November gave me a little hope but, with a divided Congress, I worry. We need the FY23 budget passed and signed during this lame duck Congress. That’s why NMAC hosts World AIDS Day events in Congress. Thank you to Joe Huang-Racalto and NMAC staff. The congressional participation was significant, even though it was a business day on the Hill. We are grateful to over 100 members of Federal AIDS Policy Partnership and the Partnership to End the HIV, STD & Hepatitis Epidemics who attended along with 21 hill staff. This is how the work gets done. It is a grind. There are thousands of organizations and movements fighting to get Congress’s attention. The HIV movement is well served by the number, diversity, and experience of the agencies and people working on the Hill. With another new divided Congress in January and the 2024 Election, will anything get done?

Thank you for standing with NMAC and the HIV movement. Please consider a year end gift to our important work. Our work to end the HIV epidemic has taken a turn. HIV PrEP is being used to create chaos for the ACA under the guise of religious freedom. While it seems crazy that we might re-litigate these issues, that’s what the new court means. We are watching their years of planning come to fruition. Anyway… have a great holiday.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata