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Thursday, November 07, 2013

15-YEAR ANNIVERSARY MEETING CHARTS COURSE ON POLITICAL, SCIENTIFIC ACTION


The 2013 Annual Meeting of Beyond AIDS recognizing 15 years of the organization's existence, was held by nationwide conference call, November 9, 2013. There was a small hub of members who met in person in Brooklyn, NY, hosted by Vice-President Monica Sweeney, while others phoned in from around the country.
Beyond AIDS Vice-President, Dr. Monica Sweeney, convened a small group as a hub for Annual Meeting
Later the same day, in conjunction with this gathering, the Boards of Directors of Beyond AIDS and its charitable subsidiary Beyond AIDS Foundation also conducted meetings.  Each gathering charted courses of action for 2014 to achieve further advance in HIV control and prevention.

The organization's ultimate mission remains the reversal of the course of the HIV epidemic, through sound public health policy. For the complete listing of the organizations's goals, objectives, and principles, see Beyond AIDS Mission and Principles.

 

LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES AND SHORTFALLS, CALIFORNIA AND NEW YORK

 

The Beyond AIDS membership celebrated a legislative success, and expressed disappointment about less successful outcomes. This link will show the legislative report for California, for the 2013 legislative year. One key bill (AB 446, also discussed below) on HIV testing passed and was signed into law, another bill (AB 999) to allow condoms in prisons passed but was vetoed. Still other bills supported by Beyond AIDS failed to progress and may get another chance in 2014. 

 

The organization discussed the legislative situation in New York State. New York's recent bill A11487 was intended to allow HIV testing without written consent. It was a partial victory in a multi-year effort by Beyond AIDS' Nettie Mayersohn, who at that time was a member of the state Assembly, to promote routine HIV testing. Unfortunately, this bill in the end did not enable opt-out routine testing, and only eliminated the requirement for written consent in the case of rapid testing, where the result can be available within an hour of specimen collection. Clinics or phlebotomy stations drawing a blood specimen to be sent out for later testing, and laboratories not offering rapid testing, must still use a written consent form. Beyond AIDS will consider further legislation to permit routine oral opt-out consent for testing in that state.

 

One positive provision in the New York bill is that health care providers must offer an HIV test at least once, to every patient ages 13-64 who might be at risk of acquiring the disease. New York was the first state to enact such a provision, but California' AB 446, strongly supported by Beyond AIDS, will take effect in 2014 with a similar provision. AB 446 will require universal offering of HIV testing to adolescents and adults by primary care providers, if other blood tests are also planned.

 

PUBLIC POLICY INITIATIVES: SAFER SEX IN PORN FILMS

 

The Beyond AIDS Foundation has taken an active role since 2010 in advising the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) on regulations to protect worker safety in the adult film industry. After three years, no regulations have yet been issued, however a new draft proposal has been posted.  Beyond AIDS has advocated for mandatory condom use, expanded screening for sexually transmitted and bloodborne infections, and coverage of treatment for such infections under Workers Compensation. The industry has been resisting such requirements. 

 

In November 2012, Los Angeles County passed an ordinance with 57% voter support, to require condoms and infection control measures for this industry in that county. A recent court decision, however, will limit the ability of the county to enforce the ordinance.

 

During the 2013 legislative year, one of the bills supported by Beyond AIDS (AB 332, later converted to AB 640) aimed at extending condom and infection control requirements for the industry statewide. Unfortunately, this was one of the bills that did not progress, but it is still alive for 2014 consideration. 

 

The membership meeting, as well as the Foundation Board, received reports on these developments and will continue participation and efforts in this area. While members noted that few HIV cases actually occur among porn film actors, another reason to pursue a requirement for condoms is that adult films set a model for what constitutes exciting sex. If millions of viewers view attractive people engaging in safer sex, this could have positive fallout. For a fuller report, check this article, especially the update at the end.

 

AWARDEE SELECTED

 

The Foundation Board meeting each year considers which individual or agency deserves to receive the prestigious Beyond AIDS "Nettie" award for setting an outstanding example in HIV/AIDS control and prevention. This year's award recipient has not been publicly announced, but will be a medical epidemiologist from New York City.

For descriptions of past awards 2001-2012, see Beyond AIDS Awards.

 

SCIENTIFIC ISSUES

 

The Beyond AIDS Foundation Board approved in concept draft policy statement on preventing new HIV infections, and adopted as a project the preparation of recommendations for the 2015 update to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The Beyond AIDS Scientific Committee serves the Foundation and will be consulted.  

Click on this link to see the 2012 policy statement on a strategy to control the U.S. HIV epidemic.

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