Impact of Affordable Care Act On HIV/STD Prevention

Wondering about the Supreme Court’s decision on HIV/STD prevention and care? Some help from The National Coalition Of STD Directors:

Sexually transmitted disease

As you consider the impact of today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act on different populations, I would like to share with you the impact of today’s ruling on our fight to prevent and treat sexually transmitted diseases.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major epidemic in the United States.  Each year, there are approximately 19 million new cases of STDs, approximately half of which go undiagnosed and untreated[i], giving the  United States the highest STD rate in the industrialized world.[ii]

STDs cost the U.S. health care system $17 billion every year—and cost individuals even more in immediate and life-long health consequences, including infertility, higher risk of acquiring HIV, and certain cancers.[iii]

  • Young people will continue to have expanded coverage under their parent’s insurance.  Young people bear a disproportionate burden of STDs—those aged 15-25 make up half of the STDs contracted annually, but make up only one-fourth of the sexually active population.
  • Private insurance will continue to have to cover prevention services with no cost out-of pocket costs to patients.  Many of those who visit STD clinics are low-income and would not be able to receive prevention sexual health services without coverage by insurance.  While there is still work to be done for certain at-risk populations, such as men who have sex with men, expanded STD testing and  STI counseling will be covered by insurance under this expansion of preventative care in the law and it is a great start.
  •  The continued need for safety-net service providers is underscored.  With the narrowing of the Medicaid expansion provisions, the very real possibility exists that many low-income individuals will not have access to affordable health care coverage.  Patients at STD clinics are young, minority, and poor—populations that are bear a much higher burden of STD disease—and may be left without coverage in a state that may choose not to expand their Medicaid coverage.

HIV-specifics from Lambda Legal:

“This is a victory for all Americans, but in particular, the Court’s decision today will save the lives of many people living with HIV – as long as states do the right thing. The Affordable Care Act will finally allow people living with HIV to access medical advancements made years ago but that have so far remained out of reach of many. With continuing prevention education, early detection, and quality care for everyone living with HIV, we have the power to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“But this is not a complete victory, because today’s decision allows states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion that would provide insurance coverage for many low-income people who cannot otherwise afford it. Our continuing challenge will be to make sure that states opt to expand Medicaid so that more low-income people, and particularly those with HIV, can get the health care they urgently need.”

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Double Anniversary

This photograph appeared in the front page of ...

This photograph appeared in the front page of The New York Daily News on Sunday, June 29, 1969, showing the “street kids” who were the first to fight with the police. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which began on June 28, 1969. It was a watershed moment for LGBT persons- when a few people at the Stonewall Inn in New York City decided they weren’t going to be pushed around anymore by a bullying city police force.

It was the beginning of the modern day gay rights movement. A movement which, I believe, has culminated in more progress in the last three years under the Obama Administration than it has in the last forty. Marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships in some states and sovereign nations; partners’ rights upheld; local non-discrimination ordinances; repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell; passing of the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Act; enormous Pride celebrations all over the land…. Much of the credit goes to activists all across the country whose tireless efforts against second-class citizenship have been rewarded by a population who now often sees discrimination against LGBT persons as archaic, draconian and just plain mean. The 5,000 people participating in Montana Pride 2012 among them.

We have a lot to be proud of, but this is no moment to rest on our laurels. The Montana Republicans may have removed the homosexual criminalization plank from their platform, but it was hardly touted as a move for equality:

According to state Rep. Keith Regier, who chaired the party’s crime committee at its convention last weekend that ultimately voted to remove the line, people were having a tough time getting the nuances of the law and subsequent court cases.

While the court’s decision in 1997 “addressed homosexuality between consenting adults,” Regier said in an e-mail, “it is still illegal with concern to solicitation, children, etc.”

“There has been confusion with this issue,” he said. “I felt the committee wanted to just remove the homosexual reference because of the confusion it caused as it was worded.”

But he added that “Removal of the reference to homosexual behavior does not mean Republicans condone that behavior.”

Like I said- not concerned with equality at all. Don’t get me wrong: I’m delighted it’s gone- but Montana Republicans have a long way to go to prove that they stand for equality- chief among them is taking the obsolete sodomy law of the books during the next legislative session. Oh, and not making homophobic ignorant remarks during testimony.

Sigh.

Oh, and the double anniversary? Today is the 21st anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Ironic, huh?

Happy Birthday, Alan Turing

For arguably one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century, the man who effectively ended World War II, the father of modern computing, one of the most scorned and ill-treated men by the British Government because of his sexuality, I offer you this photo on the hundredth anniversary of his birth:

click for source

Brilliance should never again be shamed….

And if you don’t know anything about Alan Turing you should. Look him up. Now.

Success! MT Republicans Drop Anti Gay Platform Plank

Montana Republican Party

Montana Republican Party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…and they did it while thousands were celebrating Montana Gay Pride in Bozeman. From Talking Points Memo:

Montana’s Republican Party has dropped a longtime plank in its platform demanding that the state recognize a law banning homosexual activity.

The state GOP had officially declared that “We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal,” language that was initially included in 1997 after a state court struck down an existing ban on gay sex. All such state laws were invalidated in 2003 in the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas.

The issue was dropped from the “crime” section of the platform over the weekend at the Republican state convention after the party’s crime subcommittee decided to remove it.

“The folks on the crime committee told me they had a good debate about it,” he said. “I wasn’t there myself.”

But it wasn’t entirely clear why the plank was removed. At least some Republican legislators had openly decried its inclusion as an embarrassment. But Montana GOP Executive Director Bowen Greenwood told TPM that his only direction to party committee chairs was to gut extraneous items from the platform in order to make it shorter and more accessible.

Greenwood declined to offer any opinion on the move.

“I run a servant office,” he said. “I work for Republican officeholders and I represent the platform they choose. I don’t tell them what it ought to be.”

State Rep. Keith Regier (R), chairman of the state party crime committee, did not immediately return a request for comment.

I’ve been harping on this for years now, so whatever the reason, begrudgingly or otherwise, I’ll take it.

Sorry for the silence

I’m currently in Seattle (after MT Pride and Denver) sipping a G&T at the Broadway Grill.
A bit wiped out.
We’ll get to the Republican platform, Pride and the Region VIII HIV conference next week.
Promise

My Speech: Pride Rally 2012

From Yesterday’s Pride Rally: 

Last week someone said to me “Why do you people need a parade? Why do you have to make such a fuss?”

Here’s why:

We have been afraid to be who God created us to be. Sometimes it was our churches that made us afraid.

We have been legislated against- made criminals in the eyes of the law that is supposed to protect us.

We have been killed and we have killed ourselves.

We have lost good men and women to HIV/AIDS.

We have been bullied and teased and yes, driven from our very homes and schools and communities- and state.

We have been hurt and maligned right here under this big sky.

 

Why do we need a parade?

 

To remind us that there are people whose bravery has driven away darkness. Whose voices refuse to give in to hopelessness or complacency or fear.

That together, we can be that voice.

 

A voice to proclaim the goodness of our lives and the lives of our brothers, sisters, parents, children and friends- we are here and like it or not- we are not going away.

 

We will not forget the lives that have lived with pain to bring us here- to this place of hope and triumph.

 

Today is a gorgeous day in Montana History, because the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Transgender, Intersex and Queer people of Montana- and our allies- are here to proclaim that we will not let our voice die.

 

We will not be afraid.

 

We will stand up when we are told to lie down.

We will speak when anyone tries to shame us into silence.

We will remain when we are told to leave.

We will proclaim the truth.

 

Firmly and gently and clearly and proudly.

The truth that we are light.

And that light makes Montana more beautiful, not less.  More.

 

I want to hear your voice.

Are We Good?

Are We Beautiful?

Are We Going Away?

 

We live in hope that one day all Americans agree.

Until then- we have a parade.

Because we.

Are not.

Going.

Away.