National Native HIV Awareness Day is March 20

By Shana Christensen

There is a saying in Lakota that I really love: “Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ.” It means “All my Relations.” I’m not Lakota. We don’t have that saying in Kiowa, which is the tribe I hail from. Nevertheless, It’s always struck a chord with me. When I think about all the other Natives who are living with HIV, they feel like my family, even if I haven’t met them yet. Native Americans represent some two percent of the US population, yet in many areas of the country, our HIV rates as a race are super high, above whites and in some places, second highest. Scary is an understatement.

Photo by Jeremy Charles

Our people have a milieu of reasons as to why we are at risk. Some tribes do an excellent job addressing prevention education. Other tribes have incredible access to care and treatment. I’ve been lucky to have visited lots of reservations over the years to look at their efforts first hand. I’m an urban Native, so I have quality access to care and excellent insurance through my husband and I’ve always been proactive in seeking out the best doctors and care. (If I did not have my husbands’ insurance, I live in an area that luckily works very hard to ensure my access to care with other funds, like the Ryan White Program, a life saver for many.) On the other end of the spectrum, there are tribes that have little to no HIV prevention, no money for HIV care, and no resources to help those in their communities who are HIV-positive. Numbers always affect funding, so smaller tribes are sometimes left by the wayside.

More of my life has been spent living with HIV as opposed to without it. As an adult, it is nearly all I know. I can’t imagine what an HIV free life would look like. Yet alas, this is my path and my journey, so I have buckled down to embrace it and make the best of it. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been incredibly humbling. There are no days off with this illness, much like the relief people feel when a Flu finally goes away. It requires daily attention and diligence. In the early years I was angry and felt betrayed by the whole world, sure that I had been accidentally wronged somehow and undeserved of this punishment. I had also been taught all the common ignorant stigmas about this disease, like many, about what this disease was and who “should” be most at risk for contracting it and thus never saw how I fit the pattern. So I learned the hard way, as they say. Again, humbling to my core. That was a sure fire way to deterioration and loss of energy and life. In those early years, I could feel it, literally.

Then things changed. I can without a doubt say that my traditional ceremonies are what have kept me alive and well. I’ll also agree that both Native American medicine and western medicines are an excellent mix, and are both what have contributed to keeping me alive and well. I have been privileged to have been able to participate in certain traditional ceremonies. Not all of us have access to our tribal ways. Especially for those of us who are Urban Indians, it is often difficult or very complicated to get home. For me, they were utterly life changing. They were the beauty I needed. They were the lessons in acceptance, patience, and gratitude I also needed. Yes, gratitude. It’s funny to think of being grateful to a disease that has the potential to kill you. Yet what I learned was a perspective so unusual and far removed from the traditional western outlook on a disease. It was the opposite in many ways. Most people would hate their disease, or resent it at the minimum. Diseases are annoying and time consuming and expensive and a literal pain, right? I was taught the antithesis. I learned to listen to my virus. I learned to communicate with it, to it. I learned to respect it as a life form. I also said things like I will need it to leave my body one day. But I learned how to not hate it, not resent it and not hate having it stream through my body. I also had to learn to listen to my body. And I learned that my body listens and responds to what I am saying, thinking and feeling about it. If you say you hate your body, your body hears it. If you say your body deserves to be well and healthy, it hears that too. We are not disconnected from our bodies.

In my tribe, they said that diseases come as a speaker on behalf of our Earth mother. This time, they said, she was poignantly saying that she was rapidly losing her immune system. She said her defenses have been harmed and her ability to heal has been impeded. The Elders said we humans have done this to her. They said we humans need to feel what she has felt in order to understand. And so the disease was gifted to the human race. It’s a far from average viewpoint. But it evoked in me a compassion and connection to this earth mother from where we all come from and must live. We cannot escape the need for oxygen from her air, or the need for food that grows from her soils or water that comes from her reservoirs. We need our homely earth planet and she does not need us. And so in the ceremonies I was taught to be humble, understand my connectedness to the mother earth and this living thing inside me.

The shift to healing is a deeply emotional and conscious one. It also takes daily work to remember that. Healing is different from a cure. It requires love. It requires a release of resentments and expectations. We humans have come far in this technological age and we have advances and achievements still to come. Yet we must not skip the fact that our waste cannot be greater than our consumption and ability to give back. We must return back to center, find a balance and give back in a positive way. All of these factors helped me. All of these helped me embrace my little retrovirus and carry it as a life form in my body. “Sleep and stop making copies,” the western medications say. “Do not invade the t-cells I need.” It remains burrowed in my RNA, now not replicating and not doing much of anything. Yet I am always aware it is there and listening. I swallow $3,500 worth of western antiviral meds each month. And I mediate daily on keeping the peace with it. Back to the Lakota expression, “Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ,” all my relations indeed, even the small viral ones.

So while I cannot speak for all natives across the country living with HIV, I can clearly state that our traditional ceremonial ways have an empowering piece to play if we allow it. Now, some native friends of mine have experienced the complete opposite of me, shunned from their communities, viewed as a sinned Leper of sorts, unworthy and outcast. It pains me deeply. I see them as my brothers and sisters, bound by our disease, our struggles, and our triumphs. And without trying to sound hippie dippy cliché, we are all truly related anyway. There is after all only one human race. It is my hope and outward encouragement to all of you that we can and will work towards and HIV FREE future. It is my hope that we, the collective, will all work towards a healthier life, a healthier planet, a healthier system for us all to live together and amongst. Because wouldn’t that be wonderful? And in the meantime, all the smaller bits and pieces; such as how you treat someone living with HIV, how you look upon the disabled or the weak, the poor, the disenfranchised, the elderly and the mentally compromised, plays into the compassion and love that’s required in healing. The cure is being worked on. But healing is what is attainable right now. I hope you, and all those you know, can play your part. I am.

Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ

(Special thanks to my Lakota brothers and sisters for having the bestest expression in the world!)

Shana Christensen is an enrolled member of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma. She has been an outspoken HIV activist and prevention educator since 1994. Shana has won numerous awards and recognition for her selfless commitment to educate at-risk communities and stop the spread of HIV, especially and including, Native American communities, people of color and women. She is a board member of A Grateful Day, a nonprofit dedicated to the de stigmatization and socialization of the Oklahoma HIV community. Shana is married and lives with her two children and adopted grandchild in a suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Important Happenings in

HIV/Health Policy

Week Ending: March 9, 2018
By: Matthew Rose & Sable K. Nelson

 

CROI 2018 Updates
The 25th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections 2018 (CROI 2018) was held from March 4 to 7, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts. Several noteworthy announcements were made:

A new CDC analysis suggests HIV prevention pill is not reaching most Americans who could benefit – especially people of color.
READ →https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2018/croi-2018.html

Utilization of HIV Testing and Prevention Services Among Persons Who Inject Drugs – Indiana, 2016
READ →http://www.croiconference.org/sites/default/files/posters-2018/1430_Tanner_962.pdf

The vaginal ring: more HOPE to the DREAM? Higher adherence and better effectiveness seen in open-label ring studies
READ →http://www.aidsmap.com/The-vaginal-ring-more-HOPE-to-the-DREAM-Higher-adherence-and-better-effectiveness-seen-in-open-label-ring-studies/page/3244527/

For more on these and other highlights from CROI 2018,
READ → http://www.aidsmap.com/croi-2018

 

Black AIDS Institute Launched its Black Women and PrEP Campaign
On March 7th, the Black AIDS Institute launched a PrEP and Black Women’s compendium containing: fact sheets, brochures, posters, presentations, etc. that were created for and by Black women. For more information,
VISIT→
https://blackaids.org/news-and-events/black-women-prep/

 

Greater Than AIDS Releases New #AsktheHIVDoc

Ahead of National Women and Girl HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Greater Than AIDS campaign released a series of short videos featuring Dr. Charlene Flash, an HIV specialist and primary care doctor based in Houston, TX. Focusing on women, Dr. Flash provides the latest about HIV risk, prevention, testing, and treatment. For more information,
WATCH → https://www.greaterthan.org/askthehivdoc-women-hiv/?utm_campaign=KFF-2018-Mar-HCMP-AsktheHIVDoc&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=61143014&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-97ETfCqO-oaMfe01YNdENy7LVhS1q3VbPI75JbYSMUc8fyfokVE1Di2nbGDsPIAw1UX9eLUPNlQNyOQh2C-K6PW4_iLw&_hsmi=61143014

 

What NMAC is Doing About It

  • NMAC remains vigilant in its advocacy to protect FY18 & FY19 government funding.
  • NMAC was in several meetings on the Hill talking to offices about the importance of funding HIV
  • NMAC work to get congressional offices to support the funding letters around the Minority AIDS Initiative

 

What You Can Do

TAKE ACTION: The President’s budget has cut or eliminated many important HIV/AIDS programs, it’s going to be a fight and our movement cannot afford to stand on the sidelines.  If we don’t support and advocate for HIV funding and programs, who will?  Funding decisions for FY18 will occur in the next few weeks, so your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives need to hear from you.

 

Also, MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE in time for the primary and general elections happening this year. For more information,
  VISIT→ https://www.eac.gov/voters/register-and-vote-in-your-state/

  • There are no voter registration deadlines in March.

 

Finally, PARTICIPATE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION(S) in the month of March:

National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day (NWGHAAD)

I am my sister’s keeper. This upcoming Saturday, March 10, 2018 marks the 13th year for National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), when “national and community organizations come together to show support for women and girls impacted by HIV and AIDS.”[i]  The lives and stories of women reflected in recent statistics underscores the continued need for the observance of NWGHAAD. According to the Office of Women’s Health, “about one in four people living with HIV in the United States is female. Only about half of women living with HIV are getting care, and only four in 10 of them have the virus under control.”[ii] According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “of women living with HIV, around 11% do not know they are infected.”[iii]

 

For me personally, NWGHAAD is an opportunity to thoughtfully remember the women with whom I have served alongside since I began my work in the HIV movement in the early 2000s who have passed on (but, their names live on in my heart). On NWGHAAD, and as often as we are led, may each of us take a moment to speak the names of every grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, cousin, and female friend we’ve lost to HIV. May we honor the memory of these amazing, beautiful, courageous, and strong women with a renewed commitment to end the HIV epidemic in our lifetime. We currently have the biomedical, behavioral, social, and systemic tools to successfully prevent and treat HIV. So, let’s make ending the epidemic a reality.

 

While there is much for us to celebrate on NWGHAAD (such as the decrease in annual HIV diagnoses amongst women), we must not forget the disproportionate impact experienced by cis and transgender women of color.  According to the CDC, “among all women with HIV diagnosed in 2015, 61% (4,524) were African American, 19% (1,431) were white, and 15% (1,131) were Hispanic/Latina.”[iv] Moreover, of the 2,351 transgender people who were diagnosed with HIV from 2009 to 2014, 84% (1,974) were transgender women.[v] Amongst transgender women, in that same time period, 51% (1,002) were African American and 29% (578) were Latina.[vi]

 

Addressing issues specifically faced by cis and trans women of color remains critical to end the epidemic. Since joining the NMAC team last year, I have had the honor of discussing HIV prevention and treatment with several cis and trans women of color who are living with and affected by HIV. The adverse impacts of Internalized and externalized stigma are real, pervasive and crippling our ability to prevent and treat HIV in women, especially cis and trans women of color. Many cis and trans women of color are not engaging in meaningful conversations about their sexual health. Women of color as well as their providers often do not perceive women of color as being at risk for HIV. Women of color are being talked out of HIV tests and PrEP prescriptions by their providers. Some of these women are seroconverting despite their knowledge, willingness, and the availability of PrEP. Moreover, women are being diagnosed at more advanced stages of HIV with a higher viral load and lower CD4 count due to not being aware of their status earlier. Furthermore, women are less likely to achieve viral suppression than men. All of this is unacceptable.

 

It is within our power to change this unacceptable narrative. The conversations I’ve had with cis and trans women of color from across the country, but mostly with those from the South, have challenged and inspired me to continue collaborating in order to address the unique challenges women face that hinder their ability to access and/or utilize HIV prevention or treatment services. Several opportunities can and must be pursued to end the epidemic:

  • Address unique challenges trans women of color face related to prioritizing their health care needs in a world wrought with interpersonal violence, threats of death, lack of healthcare access, housing insecurity and employment discrimination
  • Address unique issues all women of color face related to prioritizing their health care needs while juggling family, work and other responsibilities
  • Collect high-quality trans-specific data that accurately reflects the epidemic
  • Develop/Scale-up culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate prevention and treatment interventions for cis and trans Latinas
  • Educate providers about the importance of PrEP for cis and trans women of color
  • Normalize (and de-stigmatize) conversations about sexual health and behavior.
  • Recruit, hire, and equitably compensate cis and trans women of color to work in the HIV movement
  • Rethink PrEP marketing for cis and trans women of color

 

Together, as a community, we can end the HIV epidemic in women. Our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, and female friends are counting on each of us to do our part! You in?

 

Yours in the Struggle,

Sable K. Nelson

[i] https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwghaad/about-national-women-and-girls-hivaids-awareness-day

[ii] https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwghaad/about-national-women-and-girls-hivaids-awareness-day

[iii] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/women/index.html

[iv] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/women/index.html

[v] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/transgender/index.html

[vi] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/transgender/index.html

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Important Happenings in

HIV/Health Policy

Week Ending: March 2, 2018
By: Matthew Rose & Sable K. Nelson

White House Hosts Summit on Opioids

On Thursday, March 1st, the White House hosted a summit on opioids to highlight the progress the Administration has made to combat drug demand and the opioid crisis. Notable participants from the Trump Administration included:

  • Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Jerome Adams, Surgeon General
  • Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use
  • Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health
  • Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of Food and Drugs
  • Gary Barksdale, Deputy Chief Postal Inspector
  • Megan Brennan, Postmaster General
  • Rob Patterson, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Jesse Panuccio, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General
  • Stephen C. Redd, MD Acting Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control
  • Debra Houry, Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control
  • Thomas Homan, Senior Official Performing Duties of the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Peter Edge, Acting Deputy Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

External participants included approximately 200 individuals impacted by the opioid crisis, and non-profit organizations who focus on addiction and recovery. For more information, READ → https://www.nationalreview.com/blog/the-morning-jolt/ten-observations-from-the-white-house-opioid-summit/

 

CARA 2.0 Legislation on the Horizon:

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 would authorize $1 billion per year in opioid funding, a substantial funding boost over the original legislation. The bipartisan opioid legislation introduced by eight Senators on Tuesday would allocate $300 million to expand access to medication to treat addiction and $200 million to build national infrastructure for recovery support services. It would also allocate $300 million toward first responder training and access for naloxone, a highly effective opioid overdose medication. Congress approved $6 billion in funding for combatting the opioid epidemic during the February spending bill, which CARA 2.0 would draw from. It’s still unclear how that money will be distributed, as a number of appropriations committees spanning health and law enforcement activities are looking to incorporate the funds. For more information, READ →  http://www.nola.com/health/index.ssf/2018/02/sen_bill_cassidy_introduces_bi.html

 

What NMAC is Doing About It

  • NMAC remains vigilant in its advocacy to protect FY18 & FY19 government funding. We will continue meeting with congressional leaders around the importance of HIV funding.

 

What You Can Do

TAKE ACTION: The President’s budget has cut or eliminated many important HIV/AIDS programs, it’s going to be a fight and our movement cannot afford to stand on the sidelines.  If we don’t support and advocate for HIV funding and programs, who will?  Funding decisions for FY18 will occur in the next few weeks, so your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives need to hear from you.

Constituent Spotlight: Queen Hatcher-Johnson

Living with HIV for more than two decades isn’t keeping down. She’s now living her best life.

“HIV gave me a new birth with a new purpose to live and not just exist,” said Queen. “My life has changed for the good. I’m more honest and loyal than ever. It has opened my eyes to being healthy and staying healthy and educating others on the importance of being healthy.”

Prior to her diagnosis, Queen was a manager in hospitality and retail, “moving from state to state, running from myself; just existing but now I live with and on positive energy.”

Queen is currently a Clinic Office Associate for Positive Impact Health Centers in Georgia. There, she describes herself as “the face of the center.” She greets all incoming patients and guests, schedules appointments, and handles patient billing.

She’s also a committed volunteer and community speaker, working with organizations like Harlem United, AIDS Atlanta, and the Atlanta Policy Academy. And she’s happily married to her husband Terrance and the proud parent of two Yorkies, Lady and Rolex.

She’s also a participant in NMAC’s Building Leaders of Color (BLOC) program to train new leaders in the fight against HIV.

“NMAC has given me the knowledge to understand the language at board meetings, how to represent and speak up for myself and my community,” said Queen. “They’ve taught me successful leadership skills, how to deal with stigma, and so many skills. I could go on and on.”

NMAC is honored to have Queen as part of our activist family. And we hope she will keep going “on and on” as a leader in the movement.

NMAC Launches “Community Spotlight Series” of Webinars

SpotlightNMAC is launching a new Community Spotlight series of webinars for 2018. These webinars will celebrate and spotlight communities that bear greater burdens in the HIV epidemic but are often invisible or overlooked due to issues of race, gender, or gender identity.

The first entry in the series will be held Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 3:00 PM EST, in recognition of Black History Month. Reunited And It Feels So Good: Addressing Barriers That Fuel The Division of Ending The Epidemic (ETE) Planning in Black America, by Leisha McKinley-Beach, provides an overview of addressing HIV from a community perspective and will discuss the advocacy and awareness of HIV from Black leadership from the very beginning of the epidemic.

NMAC is proud to partner with the Black AIDS Institute to present this webinar.

More information about the Community Spotlight Series, including registration information, is available at www.nmac.org/webinars.

“We have heard time and again from many communities that face the greatest challenges from HIV that they want more visibility for their concerns and their needs,” said Paul Kawata, NMAC’s Executive Director. “NMAC is committed to ensuring that they are seen and heard. These webinars are just one of several new initiatives NMAC is undertaking this year to amplify all of the voices of minority communities in the fight against not just HIV but against racism and inequalities that help the epidemic to continue. We hope that everyone will join us to hear from both established and new leaders in the HIV movement and learn more about the issues we all face.”

Recognizing National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with the Congressional Black Caucus

by Matthew Rose, Policy and Advocacy Manager
Yesterday, in the halls of Congress, on the heels of the announcement a major budget deal, and on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, NMAC met with staffers from the offices of the Congressional Black Caucus. With a group of dynamic leaders and community members, NMAC helped to deliver an updated call to action, discussing the current state of affairs with HIV and its role in the black community. The session focused on the lived experiences of individuals and the people they work with who are living at the front lines of this fight with a clear call for some of the more basic needs that can help make a difference, like supportive housing, access to healthcare, and stigma free sex education.

The panelists explained where we have been and where science has led us as a community and country. We now know that if an HIV-positive person maintains an undetectable viral load in their blood, they can greatly improve their health outcomes and cannot transmit HIV. We also know how a pill taken regularly can prevent HIV but these interventions are slow to take hold in black communities. The panel asked for more support from congressional leaders, in both the form of legislation and raising voices of people sharing the truth about the effect of HIV on community and how to change the realities. We are at a tipping point, but it is a question of will. Will we have the strength and support from all levels to end to this epidemic?

 

*NMAC would like to thank the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional HIV Caucus.

 

Constituent Spotlight: Teresa Sullivan

Teresa Sullivan is in a good place in her life. She’s married to a loving and supportive husband, is a devoted grandmother and great-grandmother, and has a dedication to her work as an HIV educator and community activist.

But she didn’t get to this place easily. Teresa overcame numerous personal and health care challenges to get here.

Teresa has been living with HIV for 23 years. At the time of her diagnosis, she was in an abusive relationship.

“He told me no one else would want me because of my HIV status,” said Sullivan. “At the time, I was glad that there was someone I thought would love me unconditionally even though I had HIV.”

When she tried to leave her abuser, he filed criminal charges against her that led to her incarceration. He would visit her in prison and tell her he would drop the charges if she would come back to him.

“I got involved with an intimate partner violence support group while in prison,” said Sullivan. “That helped me learn to be strong enough to say ‘no’ to him and mean it.”

When her abuser missed all of Teresa’s court dates, the charges against her were dropped.

But Teresa’s challenges didn’t end there. Seven years ago, her only child was shot and killed while trying to break up a fight in his neighborhood.

“To honor his life, I’m an advocate to end gun violence in my community here in Philadelphia,” said Sullivan.

Today, Teresa is a leading HIV educator and activist. She is Vice Chair of the board of directors for National Positive Women’s Network–USA and a senior member of the Philadelphia Affiliated chapter. She is also a graduate fellow of the Black AIDS Institute.

As an Adherence and Mobilization Navigator for NMAC’s 50+ program, Teresa trains other people living with HIV/AIDS in how to begin a dialogue about Treatment as Prevention (TasP) in their own communities.

As a community organizer for the Support Center Prison Advocacy, Teresa spearheads outreach into communities most impacted by the crisis of mass imprisonment and helps organize neighborhood level steering committees to address specific reentry needs for those returning from prison.

Currently employed by Philadelphia FIGHT, Teresa is Co/Coordinator for its signature programs TEACH Outside and Women TEACH. Both programs are five week adult treatment education and activist training course for HIV-positive persons recently released from prison and other hard to reach communities. Teresa advocates for HIV-positive persons who are being detained in the Philadelphia Prison System. Upon their release, she helps link them into the life-saving services and resources they need for a successful reintegration back into their communities.

Despite her busy life, Teresa works on her self care.

“I believe in holistic wellness, mind, body, and spirit,” said Teresa. “When it comes to my self care, I practice mediation and have a healing temple to help with my healing process in life.”

We hope that healing temple keeps Teresa healthy and happy for many years to come. And we hope that she remains a leader and advocate in the HIV movement for all of those years.

2018 USCA Dates to Know!

 

2018 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA)

Mark your calendars for the 2018 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) taking place September 6-9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in sunny Orlando, FL.  For more information email conferences@nmac.org.

Register Now!!

Early Bird rate ends June 8. Standard rate ends Aug. 10. Onsite registration will be available at higher cost.

Reserve an Exhibit Booth!! 

Early bird registration for exhibit booths ends June 8. All booth registrations must be made by July 6.

Sponsor the Conference!! 

To receive the full benefits of sponsorship, confirm by July 6.

Reserve a Program/Mobile App Ad!!

Early bird reservation ends June 8. Final ad reservations are due July 6.

Apply for a Scholarship!! 

  • USCA General scholarship deadline is June 29.
  • 50+ Strong and Healthy deadline is June 1.
  • Social Medial Fellowship deadline is June 29.

What’s New?

Institutes

Institutes are back by popular demand.  These ½ day sessions are designed for key groups to meet and discuss the current state of HIV in their communities. In addition to separate institutes for each race/ethnicity, we will also have institutes for priority populations (e.g., people living with HIV, women, gay men, trans, faith and more). Institutes will take place on Thursday, September 6.

New Tracks

  • Trauma Informed Care – Trauma Informed Care (TIC) is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. TIC also emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both consumers and providers, and helps survivors rebuild a sense of control and empowerment. HIV, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia are all possible causes of trauma. USCA seeks abstracts that address how trauma informed care ultimately results in increased retention in HIV care.
  • Opioid Epidemic – The nation’s opioid epidemic is significantly intertwined with the increasing rates of HIV and viral hepatitis in our communities. The conference seeks proposals that address prevention services for people injecting drugs and developing local plans to coordinate prevention, rehabilitation, and treatment services.

Click here for a full list of conference tracks and abstract submission instructions. The online abstract submission portal will open on Friday, February 16.

Pathways

Pathways consist of four workshops coordinated by subject matter experts.  Here is the tentative list of pathways:

  • Aging
  • Capacity Building
  • CDC Pathway
  • Ending the Epidemic
  • Faith
  • Health Care Providers
  • Health Departments
  • Hepatitis
  • HHS SMAIF Pathway
  • Health Care Access
  • Trans Community
  • HRSA Pathway
  • People on PrEP
  • Sex Work
  • South
  • STDs
  • Structural Interventions
  • U=U
  • Youth

Hotel Reservations

USCA has secured the special conference rate of $149 for single and double rooms.

You must submit a paid USCA registration first to be able to make a hotel reservation. Your registration confirmation email will include a link to make a reservation at the hotel. Please do not contact the hotel directly as the Hyatt Regency Orlando will only reserve rooms for registered attendees that have been confirmed by NMAC.

Webinars

USCA will host three webinars leading up to the conference:

  • How to submit an abstract (March 7)
  • USCA Scholarship Process (March 21)
  • New Attendee Orientation (date TBD)

Watch for registration information for these webinars.

Scholarships

USCA offers a variety of scholarship options to help attendees defray the costs of attendance.  Click on the options below to submit a scholarship application.

Option A

  • Complimentary Conference Registration

Option B

  • Complimentary Conference Registration
  • Two (2) nights of Hotel Accommodations
  • $100 travel subsidy

HIV50+ Strong & Healthy Scholarships

The goal of HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy is to build capacity and educate local service and care providers about the impact of HIV and aging among men and women of color, ages 50 and older. The program offers scholarships to USCA that include:

  • Complimentary Conference Registration
  • Five (5) nights of Hotel Accommodations
  • Roundtrip Transportation
  • Per diem

Social Media Fellowships

Fellowship recipients will be awarded to seasoned and up-and-coming social media mavens who use their platforms to esteem the lived experiences and needs of people living with HIV. Candidates must demonstrate a commitment and expertise of social media OR have an interest in honing their skills on social media platforms inclusive of (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Huffington Post, etc.) to address the HIV epidemic. Fellowship recipients are open to U.S. residents only. 

All accepted fellowship recipients will receive:

  • Complimentary registration to the 2018 USCA (for those not currently registered)
  • Travel and five nights of hotel lodging at the 2018 USCA host hotel the Hyatt Regency Orlando

 Please note fellowship recipients will NOT receive a stipend.

Check back soon for other scholarship options.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

February 7, 2018 marks the 18th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the African Diaspora.[1]  Founded in 1999 as a national response to the growing HIV and AIDS epidemic in Black communities, NBHAAD 2018 presents the opportunity for those who have held communities together, spoken truth to power, demanded higher quality services, and advocated for better access to treatment/prevention to help us achieve the end of the epidemic in our lifetime.

We are more than 30 years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the Black community remains under siege. Of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., nearly half (498,400) are Black.[2] While the U.S. remains 12 percent Black, our community accounts for 45 percent of new HIV diagnoses.[3] Blacks also account for 44 percent of the HIV-related deaths.[4] The burden of the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to primarily be felt by Black cis women, Black transwomen, Black youth, and Black gay and bisexual men.

These numbers have been slow to change despite a new era where options for and access to prevention and treatment have never been better. Scientific breakthroughs have made it possible for us to now live in a world where maintaining an undetectable status can extend a person’s lifespan and makes it nearly impossible for one to transmit HIV to another person. Moreover, there is now a pill that when taken daily can prevent HV transmission. However, the Black community continues to lag behind in achieving viral suppression and using PrEP/PEP.

Each of us has the responsibility to show that it is the will of the people to change what it means to think about HIV in the black community. NBHAAD 2018 should be the moment where the black community changes our conversation about the disparities we see in HIV and articulates a real vision of health equity and justice. Our country should be a place where health outcomes are not based on race and place. Everyone can reach this grand destiny. The transformative power of our community can be unleashed to reimagine our health.  In this moment, we can recommit to an intersectional fight that seeks to end this epidemic by improving the health outcomes of our community. That means more access to insurances, increased use of medical care, more affordable housing, increased levels of  education, and more  employment with social mobility. The nature of the necessary changes challenge the way that systems and institutions think about and support one another. Moreover, the systems and institutions that claim to support our community must reorient how they think of our community. Systems and institutions must provide us with what we need to help everyone move forward.

The nation has been focused on the achievements of black women recently and, in the case of HIV, we would do well to follow their trail. It’s one that has seen the first significant decreases in new diagnoses of HIV for black women. It’s one that has seen record numbers of treatment services to be expanded to think of the holistic needs of an individual’s. It’s one that has some of the biggest congressional champions on the HIV front in the form of Congresswomen Lee and Waters. We need to drive similar outcomes and champions from all levels of our community that are touched by HIV. The black cis women have shown a possibility model. However the rest of our community must be equally tireless in our resolve to achieve similar levels of success. That commitment will lead all of us towards a path to the end of the epidemic. Yes, on this year’s NBHAAD we must continue the course and the promise of a future that millions have given their lives in services of. We are about to approach a point where we are closer to the end of the epidemic then we are at the beginning in many metrics, but the this has all been balanced on a delicate map. And in this moment we have to push together collectively to realize the promise that Black women have shown us is possible for our community. That, as always, is our collective strength that has helped us overcome and shaped reality that has made our community better.

On NBHAAD 2018, we must reflect, (re)commit and (re)think how we approach HIV prevention and treatment. May we celebrate how far we have come and look ahead with passion and hope towards the places that we still must go. We must ask new/different questions that facilitate the evolution of our understanding of this epidemic, such as:

How can we invite in the missing people from the conversation,

  • How do we identify the missing markers, the lost gaps and missed opportunities that could change us?
  • How do we meaningfully engage community members who have not felt or seen advances in prevention and/or treatment?

In these uncertain times, the answers to these questions will shape the way forward. Personally, lend your voice to the chorus that is calling for and creating change so together we can say:

  • We promptly answered the call when it was time to end the epidemic in our community
  • We found a way to continue to uplift our community and accelerate the end to this epidemic
  • YES, the reality of prevention and care was truly be realized in our lifetime

The world is waiting to see if we can work together to make ending the epidemic a full reality. Stand with NMAC to build a bridge to our liberation.

Matthew Rose
Policy and Advocacy Manager
NMAC

[1] https://nationalblackaidsday.org/about-us-2/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/racialethnic/africanamericans/index.html

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/racialethnic/africanamericans/index.html

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/racialethnic/africanamericans/index.html