Join the Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative and the Southern AIDS Coalition at the US Conference on AIDS

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Join the SASI and the Southern AIDS Coalition

at the United States Conference on AIDS:

 Southern Pathway Workshops: September 15-17, 2016

Workshop #1: Southern Storytelling: Using Personal Testimony as an Effective Advocacy Tool.

Date/Time:  9/15/16 from 3 – 4:30 p.m.

Location: Atlantic Ballroom 2 

DESCRIPTION:  Storytelling can be a powerful strategy for persuading legislators and other decision-makers across many different HIV-related policy issues.  When facts and characters, logic and emotion, and cause and effect work together artfully, the results can change strongly held beliefs and move people to action.  But storytelling can be challenging, especially in a short period of time, and advocates often fail because they are unable to connect their narratives to clearly articulated policy goals.  This interactive workshop will help advocates think strategically about their storytelling and how to make it effective.  Following a brief presentation, participants will have the opportunity to select one of four issue areas (Medicaid expansion, Ryan White, Housing, HIV Criminalization) where they can work with a facilitator to begin to unpack their own stories and get more comfortable inserting them into a collective narrative about the selected issue and why it matters.


Gina Brown, Planning Council Coordinator at the New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council

Khafre Abif, Southern AIDS Coalition 

Workshop #2: Southern Stigma: Programs Designed to take on Social and Institutional Stigma in the US South

Date/Time:  9/16/16 from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Location: Atlantic Ballroom 2 

DESCRIPTION: The disproportionate burden of new HIV cases in the South is further exacerbated by the need to respond within stigmatized surroundings.  Pervasive internal and external stigma in the US South creates additional barriers toward achieving optimal health. Our workshop will provide examples of how bias associated with sexuality, gender identity, and HIV status hampers the quality of life for those impacted by HIV. Our panelists will address how the socio-political climate in the south creates a perfect storm for HIV stigma and they will describe programs designed to confront institutionalized discrimination and toxic social norms. We’ll learn about PLWH acquiring the tools to advocate for themselves and their community in Baton Rouge, LA;  how LGBT Youth in Northeast Florida are creating safe and healthy environments; and finally how Latinx LGBT groups in Durham, NC are challenging newly enacted laws targeting immigrants and LGBT.


Judith Montenegro, Latinos in the Deep South, Latino Commission on AIDS

Sharon Decuir and Sarah Jackson, HAART, Inc. (Baton Rouge, LA)

Bradley Landan, JASMYN (Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network) (Jacksonville, FL)

Carolyn McAllaster, Moderator, Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI)

Workshop #3: Southern Shelter: To HOPWA and beyond! 

Date/Time:  9/16/16 from 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Location: Atlantic Ballroom 2

DESCRIPTION:  HIV housers and residents of that housing often rely solely on Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), a relatively small resource within the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) portfolio.  This workshop will explore more mainstream housing options that may be available to people living with HIV (PLWH), as well as the ins and outs of HOPWA.  What does the HOPWA legislation actually allow?  What barriers are actually layered onto HOPWA eligibility by local jurisdictions?  What will HOPWA Modernization mean to your jurisdiction?  Does your local Continuum of Care provide HIV-specific housing for the homeless?  What are HUD’s current priorities?  Learn to advocate for the housing options that are best suited to serve the people in your area.


Kathie Hiers, AIDS Alabama

Nathan Salter, AIDS Alabama

Claude Martin, Acadiana Cares, Lafayette, LA

Alton Thornton, Acadiana Cares, Lafayette, LA

Rita Flegel, HUD Office of HIV/AIDS Housing 

Workshop #4.  Southern Strategies: Policy Priorities to increase HIV care and prevention in the US South.

Date/Time:  9/17/16 from 9:30 – 11:00 p.m.

Location: Atlantic Ballroom 2

DESCRIPTION: In this workshop, participants will learn about selected policy changes needed to increase access to HIV prevention and care in the US South. Workshop leaders will discuss the challenges of expanding Medicaid in the South focusing on Louisiana; the importance of prevention funding from the CDC for community-based organizations in smaller cities and rural areas in the US South; issues related to continued funding from the Ryan White Care Act; how  tele-medicine is being used in a resource poor state (Alabama) to provide HIV care throughout the state. Participants will come away with specific action steps through which to make your voices heard with state and federal policy makers.


Carolyn McAllaster, Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI)

Alicia Cooke, Louisiana STD/HIV Program

Kathie Hiers, AIDS Alabama

Rozetta Roberts, Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama

Felicia Owens, AIDS Alabama

Workshop #5: Southern Sisters on the Move: A market of ideas and actions to engage women living with HIV in the South.

Date/Time:  9/17/16 from 2 – 3:30 p.m.

Location: Atlantic Ballroom 2 

DESCRIPTION: Speakers from three agencies in the US South (HAART, Inc. in Baton Rouge; Rural Women’s Health Project in Gainesville, and Sisterlove in Atlanta) will discuss initiatives that are meaningfully engaging women living with HIV to be a voice in their communities and to build leadership and advocacy skills. Speakers will share information in an interactive marketplace setting in which speakers and audience members will exchange ideas and actions related to building strong positive women activists in the South. Workshop participants will walk away with at least three approaches to engaging women living with HIV in the US South.


Sharon Decuir, HAART, Inc. (Baton Rouge, LA)

Sarah Jackson, HAART, Inc. PEPR program (Positives empowering positives to Renew) (Baton Rouge, LA)

Tammy Kinney, SisterLove (Atlanta, GA)

Dee Dee Chamblee, La Gender, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)

Marvene Edwards, Rural Women’s Health Project “Let’s Talk About It” program (Gainesville, FL)

Robin Lewy, Rural Women’s Health Project, (Gainesville, FL)

Facilitators: Carolyn McAllaster, Dazon Dixon Diallo, Melissa Torres-Montoya 

Workshop #6: Southern Salvation: Black Gay Men, HIV and the Black Church

Date/Time:  9/17/16 from 4 – 5:30 p.m.

Location: Atlantic Ballroom 2

DESCRIPTION: An in-depth discussion about HIV and the black church.  We will examine the woes of when the place that is supposed to bring healing and hope actually rob you of those.  Often times the black church, which is the center of the black family and community, play a major role in how norms are shaped.  They also take the lead on setting priorities of what’s important in our communities (i.e., Civil Rights Movement) and families follow suit.  This has been the pattern for decades, but one issue that is often overlooked and has caused damage to many is the neglect, rejection, ridicule and blatant judgment of the black gay man.  Where does He find healing? Where does He find hope?  Who helps to validate Him?  These questions still go unanswered in many communities today.  Could this be one reason why HIV rates are high among BMSM?  Did the black church not know this was an issue or was the silence intentional?


Mardrequs Harris, HIV Prevention-HIV/STD/Viral Hepatitis Program, TN Department of Health

Khafre K. Abif, Southern AIDS Coalition

Dr. Shanell McGoy, HIV/STD Director, HIV/STD/Viral Hepatitis Program, TN Department of Health

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SASI Releases New Report/Recommendations re: PrEP

SASI releases new report: WE HAVE THE TOOLS TO END HIV- Benefits, Barriers, and Solutions to Expanded Utilization of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in the US Deep South

The benefits of PrEP to prevent HIV transmission are well established. It is critical that we overcome the multi-faceted barriers to achieving widespread PrEP utilization among vulnerable populations. The barriers are especially prohibitive in the US South where rates of poverty are higher than the national average, conservative attitudes about sex and HIV may heighten stigma concerns, where few states have expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, and health outcomes are generally poor.


Federal Policy Recommendations

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should work with the US Department of Health and Human Services, state health departments and community-based organizations to:

    • Develop best practices to reach at-risk persons who could benefit from PrEP;

    • Develop best practices to reach and train primary care medical providers on PrEP;

    • Develop a PrEP surveillance system to measure PrEP utilization.

  • The CDC should ensure that CDC funding focused on PrEP:

    • Allows for flexibility to pay for labs and provider time.

    • Is broadened to include smaller cities and rural areas in the South with heavy HIV burden.

  • Demonstration Projects are needed that are focused on:

    • PrEP uptake, adherence, and acceptability.

    • The efficacy and utilization of PrEP by and for women, including trans women, sex workers and women of color.

Pharmaceutical Company Policy Recommendations

  • Gilead Sciences should:

    • Continue its investment in community-based projects supporting PrEP education for high-risk populations;

    • Invest in a larger PrEP mass media campaign to raise awareness and contribute to the normalization of PrEP use for those at risk.

    • Invest in comprehensive education for primary care providers related to PrEP.

    • Improve its Medication Assistance Program (MAP) for PrEP specifically to allow persons under the age of 26 who are on their parent’s health insurance plan to access the PAP.

    • Expand the cap on its Co-payment Assistance Program (CAP) contribution from $3600 to match the out-of-pocket maximum cost for Affordable Care Act plans ($6,850 in 2016.)

    • Provide data on PrEP utilization broken down demographically by gender, race, age, geography and insurance status to identify patterns of and gaps in PrEP uptake.

State Policy Recommendations 

  • State governments, particularly those in the US South, should expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act.

  • Fund PrEP clinics for vulnerable populations. 

State and Local Health Department Policy Recommendations

  • State and local health departments should:

    • Fund PrEP clinics for vulnerable populations;

    • Raise awareness about PrEP in communities at risk;

    • Work with community-based organizations to educate and engage communities at risk about PrEP.

    • Provide comprehensive PrEP education for primary care providers.


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New SASI Report: Medicaid Expansion in the South

SASI’s new report, Medicaid Expansion in the South, examines efforts in nine Deep South states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Thirty-two states have expanded Medicaid. Many of the remaining states are located in the Deep South: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Louisiana plans to expand Medicaid in July 2016.

In states that have not expanded Medicaid, people remain uninsured because they do not qualify for traditional Medicaid under the states’ rules and cannot afford to purchase insurance on the ACA Insurance Marketplace.  These people fall into what is known as the “coverage gap.” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 90% of people who fall in the coverage gap live in the South. *

SASI’s report looks at the impact in the Deep South states that have failed to expand Medicaid and examines the politics and advocacy efforts surrounding the movement to bring Medicaid expansion to the South.


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SASI Releases the HIV/AIDS Care and Prevention Infrastructure in the U.S. Deep South Report

SASI’s HIV-AIDS Care and Prevention Infrastructure in the U.S. Deep South is co-authored by SASI research team, Susan S. Reif, Kristen Sullivan, Elena Wilson, and Miriam Berger of the Duke University Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research.

Recent research from SASI documented that nine states in the US Deep South (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX) had especially high HIV diagnosis rates and death rates due to HIV from 2008-2013.[1]

This new Report examines HIV care and prevention infrastructures and factors that contribute to poorer outcomes in the Deep South. Researchers studied four metropolitan statistical areas MSAs) with pronounced HIV and AIDS diagnosis rates (Baton Rouge, LA; Columbia, SC; Jackson, MS; Jacksonville, FL) and compared them to two metropolitan areas with similar demographics but less severe HIV epidemics (Birmingham, AL and Cincinnati, OH).

All four study areas had HIV epidemics that are predominantly affecting Black/African American people with high HIV and AIDS diagnosis rates and HIV death rates.  There were differences among the MSAs, however. For example, Baton Rouge and Jacksonville had some of the highest proportion of new female diagnoses in the US, whereas Jackson and Columbia had high proportions of minority men who have sex with men (MSM) among those diagnosed with HIV. Continue reading

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Deep South States continue to drive the HIV epidemic in the US

SASI Releases: HIV/AIDS in the US Deep South: Trends from 2008-2013With six years of HIV/AIDS related data, new SASI Trends Report confirms that nine Deep South states are driving the HIV epidemic in the US.

The trends documented in SASI’s recent Report have been consistent over the last six years of data and indicate a critical need to strengthen efforts to reduce HIV transmission and mortality within the region. These trends may reflect barriers to timely HIV testing and treatment such as HIV-related stigma, lack of transportation and housing and inadequate availability of HIV medical providers. It is important that the Deep South region receive an equitable share of HIV care and prevention funding and that funding is distributed consistent with the geographic distribution of the epidemic.

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25 Bipartisan Members of Congress Urge CDC & White House to Expand HIV Prevention Funding for Rural & Suburban Areas in Deep South

See the Press Release below from Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) announcing the request by 25 bipartisan members of Congress for expanded HIV prevention funding from the CDC for rural and smaller urban areas in the Deep South.

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SASI at the US Conference on AIDS

The Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative is excited to be working with the Southern AIDS Coalition to sponsor two events at this year’s US Conference on AIDS.


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Deep South Needs Prevention Resources to Address High Prevalence of Undiagnosed HIV in the Region

According to the recently released CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Prevalence of Diagnosed and Undiagnosed HIV Infection – United States, 2008-2012persons who are unaware of their HIV+ status contribute to nearly one third of ongoing HIV transmission in the United States.[1]  “[The] data demonstrate[s] the need for interventions and public health strategies to reduce the prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection.” The CDC reports that only 5 jurisdictions met the National HIV/AIDS Strategy objective of increasing the percentage of persons living with HIV who know their serostatus to ≥90% (Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, and New York).  Only two jurisdictions met this goal for the important target population of MSM.

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Seventy-six organizations signed on to SASI’s letter to ONAP calling for increased HIV prevention funding to hard hit areas

Today, SASI and 75 national, regional, state and local organizations called on the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) to expand the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) to add the following critical actions necessary to further reduce HIV infections and to achieve an AIDS-free Generation in the United States:

  • Adopt a more effective and nuanced approach to HIV Prevention by ensuring that:
    • HIV prevention resources are also targeted to rural and suburban, under-served areas with high HIV diagnosis rates, high death rates, and low survival rates, among people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS;
    • HIV prevention efforts in rural and suburban areas are informed by the epidemic profile of each state and tailored geographically by the social and cultural context in each state;
    • HIV prevention efforts targeted to rural and suburban areas support and evaluate capacity to provide HIV prevention and care at the state, local and community-based organization levels.

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SASI Releases New Report: ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: What Does High Impact Prevention Funding Mean for Community-Based Organizations in the Deep South?

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: What Does High Impact Prevention Funding Mean for Community-Based Organizations in the Deep South?  underscores concerns that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) High Impact HIV Prevention funding policy creates a “one size fits all” approach that does not adequately address the HIV prevention needs in parts of the country with large rural (non-metropolitan) and suburban (metropolitan areas of 50,000 to 499,000 population) HIV epidemics.

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