National Coalition for LGBT Health Advocacy Brief – December 11, 2019

New HHS Program Will Provide PrEP Free to Those in Need

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has revealed the details of a plan to make the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada available at no-cost to qualifying at-risk individuals. The plan, unveiled Dec. 3, follows an announcement last May by drug maker Gilead that the company would donate supplies of the drug to the U.S. government sufficient to cover 200,000 people over 11 years. The plan, called “Ready, Set, PrEP,” is part of a larger initiative by the Trump Administration to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the U.S. by 90% by the year 2030. The Administration will not cover the cost of medical appointments and lab tests needed to qualify for free Truvada coverage.

Read more via STAT.

The National Coalition for LGBT Health Signs Letter Calling on Facebook to Remove Misleading Ads About Truvada Class Action Lawsuit

The National Coalition for LGBT Health joined more than 50 LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS, and public health organizations, led by GLAAD, in signing a letter calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to remove dangerous and misleading advertisements about a class action lawsuit against the makers of the drug emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Truvada) from Facebook and Instagram. The ads contain frightening and inflammatory language, such as warnings about “life-threatening side effects,” that are causing people to not start or stop taking Truvada for PrEP. In reality, the lawsuit is mainly focused on individuals using Truvada for the long-term treatment of HIV, not those using Truvada for PrEP (the drug may be used for both prevention and treatment of HIV). The suit is based on the allegation that the company that manufactures Truvada withheld the release of emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide (Descovy) for PrEP, a new drug with statistically fewer bone and kidney side effects in clinical studies, in order to maximize sales of Truvada. Nevertheless, Truvada for PrEP is extremely safe, and is supported by the scientific and public health community. As the letter states: “This issue goes beyond misinformation, as it puts real people’s lives in imminent danger” by causing at-risk individuals to avoid a proven HIV prevention technique. The Washington Post covered the ads, and the response from the LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS, and public health community in an article on December 9.

Read the letter.

Read the Washington Post article

Democrats Criticize Trump Administration Policies on World AIDS Day

On World AIDS Day, leaders within the Democratic National Committee (DNC) criticized Trump Administration policies that hurt individuals living with HIV/AIDS, including attempts to weaken the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, and cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides health services many individuals living with HIV rely on. DNC leaders also criticized the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., over an offensive tweet condemned as a “despicable attack on people living with HIV.” Numerous advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, have called on the President’s son to apologize.

Read more via the Hill

Courts Reject OCR “Provider Conscience” Rule

A third federal district court ruled to vacate the Trump Administration’s “Provider Conscience” rule on November 19. The regulation, issued by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), expands the ability of health workers – including providers and non-medical personnel, such as orderlies and ambulance drivers – to deny services on the basis of religious objections. The rule expands and consolidates existing regulations that recognize the right of health care providers to deny services, such as abortion, that violate their religious principles, and could theoretically be used to protect health workers who deny services to LGBTQ patients on this basis. States, cities, and advocacy organizations have challenged the rule on the grounds that it will negatively impact access to care for women, LGBTQ individuals, and other minority populations.

Read more via Health Affairs.

Read more via Gay City News.

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee Call on HHS to Enforce Anti-Discrimination Laws

The House Ways and Means Committee submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) condemning a proposed rule that will enable HHS grant recipients to discriminate in the provision of services based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. The letter was signed by all Democrats serving on the committee, and was submitted as part of the 30-day comment period on the proposed rule, which began November 19. Want to submit a comment of your own? The Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, a project of Family Equality, has resources on how to do so.

Learn more about the proposed rule

ACTION: Submit your comment today!

REMINDER: ACA Open Enrollment Closes Dec. 15

There are less than two weeks remaining to sign up for health insurance for 2020 through the federal and state marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If you miss the December 15th, 2019enrollment deadline you could be locked out of the health insurance marketplace until 2021, and forced to pay 100% of your medical bills out-of-pocket. Health insurance plans available on the marketplace offer income-based financial subsidies to reduce premium costs, so most people can find a plan for $50 to $100 per month. In past years, the enrollment period was much longer, but the Trump Administration is making every effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and has cut the enrollment period in half. That means it’s more important than ever for you, your family, and your friends to know about the new deadline and your rights when it comes to health insurance and health care access.

Have you experienced challenges in signing up for an ACA Health Plan?  Email us at info@HealthLGBT.org.

ACTION: Enroll Today!

ACTION: Spread the word in your community!

Research Shows Vital Role of Community-based Clinics in Advancing LGBT Mental Health Care Policy

A new paper from researchers at Cornell and Bryn Mawr chronicles the history of Philadelphia’s Eromin Center, which was one of the first centers to provide LGBT affirmative mental health care. This approach, which the authors dub “clinical activism,” set an example for national leaders and mental health policy makers by shifting the focus of treatment toward self-acceptance and combatting the effects of discrimination.

The take-away? “Change at the level of policy and guidelines is often not enough. Real and lasting change has to start within communities,” says co-author Stephen Vider.

Read more via the Cornell Chronicle

Campaign for Southern Equality Releases Results of Southern LGBTQ Health Survey

The Campaign for Southern Equality and Western North Carolina Community Health Services released the largest known survey on the health status and healthcare experiences of LGBTQ Southerners on Nov. 6. The survey included 5,617 participants from 13 states, and sheds light on an area in need of further research. Particularly troubling were findings related to mental health and healthcare access among respondents. More than half of respondents reported their mental health was fair to poor, while more than 20 percent of transgender respondents reported their healthcare needs are not being met. The report also includes recommendations for how medical providers, training facilities, advocacy organizations, funders, and government officials can improve the health of LGBTQ Southerners.

Read the executive summary

ACTION: Are you an LGBTQ Southerner? Share your story!

Join Us At SYNC 2020!

SYNChronicity (SYNC) 2020 brings together medical professionals, service providers, government officials, and health advocates to sync effective approaches to address HIV, HCV, STI, and LGBTQ health in the changing and dynamic health care landscape, with a focus on underserved racial/ethnic minorities and LGBTQ communities. The conference is organized by HealthHIV, HealthHCV, and the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health with the guidance of a diverse planning committee. The National Coalition for LGBT Health will hold a member meeting during the conference where you can connect with your colleagues and peers to discuss LGBT Health advocacy! You can register now to attend the conference May 11-12, 2020 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C.

ACTION: Register Today!

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