Collaboration isn’t easy — but it is absolutely crucial.
Collaborating in principle is easy, but true and meaningful collaboration requires rolling up your sleeves; being willing to trust, listen, and sometimes forgive; and celebrating the movement’s progress as your own. At AIDS United, we know that collaborating when collaboration is hard is when the magic happens. It is the only way we’ll fulfill our mission of ending the AIDS epidemic.
This magic happens every day with the AIDS United Public Policy Committee (PPC). The PPC brings together 41 of the nation’s most respected HIV-focused organizations to shape policy that is informed by and aligned with the stark realities experienced in communities across the country. The PPC is able to bring together organizations from different areas of the country who serve diverse populations to build shared policy platforms that sometimes require compromise but are critical for achieving the big goal of ending AIDS in America. By unifying the voices of people and organizations at the forefront of the fight and mobilizing advocates behind issues and causes that matter the most, we are moving closer every day to the end of the epidemic.
“As the health care landscape goes through rapid change, we must ensure a unified front to advocate with policymakers regarding the needs of people living with HIV and the field that serves them. We are stronger and more effective working collectively, collaboratively, and with an amplified voice — these are the reasons we value the opportunity to participate in the AIDS United Public Policy Committee.”
– Dr. John Carlo
CEO AIDS Arms
Averting Future HIV Outbreaks Through Sound Public Policy
Scott County, Indiana became the epicenter of the largest outbreak of HIV in Indiana’s history when nearly 200 people contracted HIV related to injection-drug use. This unprecedented outbreak devastated the region and captivated the nation’s attention. AIDS United worked with bipartisan congressional leadership to end the ban on the use of federal funding for Syringe Exchange Programs. This represents a major advocacy victory and a critical step in preventing a similar HIV outbreak in the future.
Educating members of Congress on the importance of maintaining and expanding essential services and care for people living with HIV is integral to our mission of ending AIDS in America. In 2015, we educated Congress by:
CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFINGS: We organized and conducted a congressional briefing, at the request of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, that provided basic HIV education to dozens of key congressional staff at the start of the 114th Congress. Later, we hosted a briefing, sponsored by Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), to discuss the HIV outbreak in Indiana and syringe access as a critical tool in our nation’s response.
CAPITOL HILL VISITS: AIDS United policy staff conducted more than 150 congressional office visits with, and on behalf of, PPC members. This is in addition to the 240 visits made through AIDSWatch!
EMPOWERING ADVOCATES: AIDS United empowered almost 2,000 advocates from around the country to contact their Members of Congress through the AIDS United Policy Action Center.
2015 ADVOCACY HIGHLIGHTS
SYRINGE ACCESS: Collaboration among our members across the field has bolstered AIDS United’s ability to work collaboratively across parties, gaining bipartisan congressional support to end the ban on the use of federal funding for Syringe Exchange Programs.
HRSA ALLOWABLE EXPENSE CLARIFICATION: Organizations across the country struggled with the HRSA’s onerous interpretation of an administrative policy that strained their financial sustainability by disallowing reimbursement of some expenses under the Ryan White Program that were deemed allowable by the majority of federal agencies. AIDS United was able to resolve this by bringing together community partners and working diligently with HRSA leadership to issue HRSA Policy Clarification Notice 15-01. This new policy clarification will help all Ryan White-funded agencies find greater sustainability.
DOMESTIC HIV FUNDING: After relentless advocacy and coalition work, AIDS United was able to secure stable domestic HIV funding for most programs, modest increases to the Ryan White Program and Hepatitis C prevention programs, and reverse drastic cuts to the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative in FY16 appropriations.
HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES: Working alongside the National AIDS Housing Coalition and other community partners, we built support for a community-driven proposal to modernize the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program to ensure an equitable distribution of HIV-specific housing funding. Both the Senate and House have adopted legislative language recognizing this need. The outcome is a true illustration of collaboration, where compromise was required across the field to find agreement on equitable distribution of funds, even when some jurisdictions would face reduced funding so others could receive a more equitable distribution of resources.