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Windy City Media Group: Secretary Sebelius addresses nation’s largest AIDS conference

Secretary Sebelius addresses nation’s largest AIDS conference
from Windy City Media Group, November 11, 2011

NMAC announces new mission to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Washington, DC — Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius addressed the U.S. Conference on AIDS today, the largest annual AIDS-related gathering in the country. Speaking at the opening plenary, the Secretary reiterated the Obama administration’s commitment to expanding access to care for people living with HIV and AIDS, reducing new infections and minimizing health disparities. She highlighted the administration’s two key policy priorities that would achieve these goals, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Secretary called for continued and full implementation of the ACA, which would expand access to care for people living with HIV and AIDS through both the legislation’s Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges. Currently, only 13 percent of people living with HIV and AIDS have access to private insurance and in order to be eligible for Medicaid, most people must become disabled by AIDS and be very poor. The ACA will make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, including HIV and AIDS and would expand Medicaid eligibility to anyone below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Also addressing the conference was White House Office of National AIDS Policy, Jeff Crowley, who discussed the importance of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in working to end the epidemic.

“Recent science has underscored the importance of ensuring access to quality care and treatment,” said National Minority AIDS Council Deputy Executive Director Daniel C. Montoya. “When we get individuals onto treatment early and their viral loads down to undetectable levels, the risk that they will transmit the virus to others is reduced by as much as 96 percent. The ACA will go far in expanding access to care and treatment for all Americans, including people living with HIV and AIDS, but we must work to ensure that it is fully implemented and key provisions that will eliminate health disparities remain intact.”

“Science and policy have brought us closer than we’ve ever been to ending this epidemic,” continued Montoya. “Policies like the ACA and the NHAS Advancements like treatment as prevention and pre-exposure prophylaxis will greatly expand the prevention tools at our disposal and policies like the ACA and NHAS are paving the way to make these tools available to people who stand to benefit from them the most. It is the very promise of this moment that inspired NMAC to announce its’ new mission today: ‘developing leadership in communities of color to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This is our time. We have the power to end this epidemic.”

###

The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) represents a coalition of 3,000 faith based and community based organizations as well as AIDS service organizations advocating and delivering HIV/AIDS services in communities of color nationwide. Since 1987, NMAC has developed leadership in communities of color through a variety of advocacy campaigns, public policy education programs, national conferences, research programs, capacity building, technical assistance and trainings, and digital and electronic resource materials. For more information visit www.nmac.org .

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