AIDSWatch — hosted by AIDS United, the US People Living with HIV Caucus and the Treatment Access Expansion Project/Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation — is the largest national, constituent-led HIV advocacy event in the country. The event, which began 29 years ago with a small group of dedicated advocates, has transformed and grown, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended lives. While there has been tremendous progress since that first AIDSWatch, the need for vigorous HIV advocacy has never been greater: communities impacted by HIV are struggling under the burden of syndemics and their social and economic impacts, but we also now have the scientific knowledge and wider recognition of the racial and social injustices driving the epidemic needed to address barriers blocking our efforts — if we can provide and inspire the political will.
Congress must support the health of people living with or vulnerable to HIV.
We demand that Congress:
- Secure health care for uninsured individuals and families who cannot get Medicaid because their states have not expanded program eligibility.
- Extend the enhanced federal matching for state Medicaid programs and allow state officials the time and resources to minimize loss of coverage.
- Encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to update federal guidance for state Medicaid programs on the provision of treatment and services for HIV and hepatitis C to reflect recent advances in care.
- Extend enhanced financial assistance for middle- and low-income people buying health care coverage on the health care marketplace, so those experiencing the financial pressures of COVID-19 and those who face disenrollment from Medicaid can turn to the marketplace to secure health care coverage.
- Expand access to HIV prevention by increasing funding and coverage of PrEP medication and ancillary services, including for people who are uninsured and for people in private health insurance plans that have incurred inappropriate cost sharing.
- Pass legislation that helps expand access to this important prevention tool and bring us closer to ending the HIV epidemic, such as the PrEP Access and Coverage Act (S. 3295/H.R. 6117) and the PrEP Assistance Program Act (H.R. 5605).
- Invest in programs that address the social determinants of equity and health, including efforts to combat COVID-19, improve housing and food security, and expand access to nonemergency medical transportation.
- Pass legislation like the Medically Tailored Home-Delivered Meals Demonstration Pilot Act (H.R. 5370), which establishes a Medicare pilot program that allows hospitals to provide medically tailored meals to people with certain chronic conditions.
- Ensure the federal Ending the Epidemic initiative and other broader health efforts are community-based, community-tailored and fully funded.
- Ensure that all people living with and vulnerable to HIV have access to quality, affordable, evidence-based mental health and drug user health services.
- Eliminate any language restricting the use of federal funds to purchase syringes and related supplies and support syringe services programs in responding fully to the needs of their clients.
Congress must address ongoing and persistent unfair and discriminatory practices that perpetuate structural and institutional racism and other inequities.
We demand that Congress:
- Pass the Equality Act (H.R. 5).
- Pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), which would strengthen voting rights by expanding and strengthening the government’s ability to respond to voting discrimination particularly toward communities of color. The language of the final bill must preempt any current state legislation that threatens voting rights.
- Pass the Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747) which includes measures to reform voter registration and voting access, election integrity and security, redistricting, and campaign finance.
- Pass The Repeal Existing Policies that Encourages and Allow Legal (REPEAL) HIV Criminalization Act that is consistent with current HIV decriminalization advocates’ understanding and strategy and that incentivizes states to reform or repeal their respective laws.
- Enact legislation encouraging and supporting states to repeal HIV criminalization laws.
- Pass legislation to fund programs led by women and trans people to address housing, the HIV epidemic and other health care needs through a gender equity lens.
- Pass legislation to require grantees to include intimate partner violence screenings in health care supportive service settings.
- Secure funding for Title X family planning program grantees to maintain affordable access to birth control, screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy testing.
- Pass the The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act (H.R. 2234/S. 1021) which ensurers those who receive health care or health insurance from the government can access abortion coverage.
- Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7/S. 205) in the Senate to help eliminate the gender wage gap.
- Pass the LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act (H.R. 4176/S. 2287). This bill requires federal agencies that collect demographic information through surveys to review existing data sets to determine where in their work sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data is not included, and to update relevant surveys to include SOGI questions.
- Pass legislation, such as the Build Back Better Act, that includes paid family leave.
- Pass the HIV Epidemic Loan-Repayment Program (HELP) Act (H.R. 2295), which will help build the next generation of HIV care & prevention experts and address clinical HIV workforce shortages.
- Pass the Medicare For All Act (H.R. 1976) to establish a national health insurance program.
- Pass the SAFE Sex Worker Study Act (H.R. 6928), which would require the National Institutes of Health to conduct a study on the negative health impacts of recent legislation called SESTA/FOSTA on sex workers in our communities.
- Oppose the EARN IT Act (H.R. 6544/S. 3538) and other bills that threaten internet privacy and further criminalize and stigmatize consensual sexual engagement.
- Pass comprehensive immigration legislation that would cover immigration from all countries such as the following bills:
- The HEAL Act for Immigrant Families (S. 1660), which would extend Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage to eligible individuals in the United States.
- The American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) to adjust certain processes for receiving permanent resident status and other immigration reforms.
- The U.S. Citizenship Act (H.R. 1177), which would expand paths to citizenship for some immigrants and updates immigration statutes and processing.
Congress must accelerate and support efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the US by 2030 through the appropriation of federal dollars.
We demand that Congress fund the following programs at these levels in fiscal year 2023:
- The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program — $2.942 billion
- Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) — $600 million
- Minority AIDS Initiative — $610.0 million
- Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases program within CDC — $120 m
- Additional Ending the Epidemic supplemental funding across programs