HIV Prevention: Wellness & Health Reform
While health reform is great news for people living with HIV, it will also put some serious muscle into the fight to prevent new HIV infections and other chronic diseases. In addition, many communities impacted by HIV are also affected by other preventable diseases. The new law will address the inequity between preventative and health care services by promoting community health and wellness.
Unfortunately, many of these preventative programs are at risk of being cut or eliminated in the federal deficit reduction debate. We need you to add your voice to protect them.
Here are the top five reasons the prevention benefits of health reform matter for people with HIV:
Free HIV screening for women
In a major victory, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in August 2011 that insurers must cover HIV screening for all women, at no cost. Advocates are now working to make sure these rules are adopted, and that men have the same level of access to HIV testing through insurance. Learn more at the AIDS Institute’s website.
Expanded HIV testing
In 2010, $30 million from the new Prevention and Public Health Fund was used to expand HIV testing access across the country.
The new health reform law requires new private insurance plans and Medicare to provide preventive services such as birth control, cancer screening, blood pressure and cholesterol check-ups for little or no cost (in addition to HIV tests for women and at-risk groups). You won’t have to pay high fees for costly tests to learn if you have some of the conditions that often come with being HIV-positive, like heart disease.
You may have heard of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, our first ever national plan to address the HIV epidemic in the U.S. The Obama administration has released a similar plan focused on community health and wellness – the National Prevention Strategy. This exciting new plan will coordinate all of the nation’s prevention activities as we redouble our efforts to limit the impact of chronic disease, including HIV/AIDS.
Health reform is supposed to invest a lot of money into community health centers ($11 billion over five years!) to make sure that low-income people have access to primary care and wellness exams to catch potentially serious conditions early. Some community health centers are using this money to expand their services to include HIV prevention, care, and treatment. However, we have lots of work to do to protect this funding and to ensure that more community health centers offer HIV services.