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Sunday, August 01, 2010

BEYOND AIDS MEETINGS WITH WASHINGTON OFFICIALS

On July 20, 2009, one day after a productive Annual Meeting of Beyond AIDS in Alexandria, Virginia hosted by Yvonne Pover (Treasurer), representatives of the organization met with top government officials in charge of HIV/AIDS policy.  A Beyond AIDS delegation consisting of N.Y. Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (Vice-President), Michael Simanowitz, and Harry Dunsker from New York, and Ron Hattis (President) and Denise Bleak (Secretary) from California, provided input to two key Obama Administration leaders for the development of a National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  A document entitled "Making a Difference in the Control of HIV Transmission: Policy Recommendations for the Administration and Congress," was presented to both administration and congressional offices. It emphasized early identification of HIV infections through routine testing; linkage of  HIV reporting to prevention services; adequate inclusion of HIV screening, prevention, and treatment in healthcare reform legislation; special programs for HIV prevention for African American and other minority populations; and an equitable distribution formula for Ryan White CARE Act funding among the states and municipal area.

From left to right: Dunsker, Mayersohn, Bates, Bleak, Hattis at Humphrey Building, Washington, DC


The delegation first renewed contact with Christopher Bates, HIV/AIDS Policy Director for Health and Human Services, who was continued in that role by Obama and had previously met several times with Beyond AIDS officials during the Bush Administration.  Mr. Bates indicated that over the years his views had converged toward those of Beyond AIDS on a number of key issues. such as reporting and partner services. He reviewed some initiatives being taken by the Administration and accepted the list of recommendations to consider in the future. The visit was cordial.

Left to right: Mayersohn, Crowley, Bleak, Dunsker, and Simonawitz, at White House

Later that day, they met at the White House Executive Office Building with Jeffrey Crowley, Director of National AIDS Policy. Mr. Crowley had been assigned primary responsibility for drafting the President's National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The delegation emphasized that control of HIV at the source, i.e., the infected person, should be a key element in national strategy, and suggested that some funding for entitlements for AIDS patients might be better directed toward new prevention services working with HIV positives. Mr. Crowley defended the entitlements and did not agree with all of the positions suggested by Beyond AIDS, but listened courteously.

Later in the afternoon, Congress members from New York and California were visited by delegation members. These visits were part of the ongoing efforts of Beyond AIDS to influence the direction of HIV/AIDS prevention policy at the national level.

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