Ending the

National Efforts To End HIV Epidemic Must Include Access To Equitable And Nondiscriminatory Healthcare

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COLUMBUS, Ohio/PRNewswire/ -- In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump announced a national campaign to help end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. Equitas Health applauds the announcement and the national discourse that this has begun. For more than three decades the Ohio based LGBTQ healthcare system has championed such an announcement and acknowledges its historic nature.

As an early adopter of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the US: A Roadmap for Federal Action whitepaper and as a supporter of the U = U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) campaign, Equitas Health understands the necessary work and investment of resources that this will entail. In that vein, the nonprofit organization looks forward to working with Ohio'sCongressional delegation to ensure that the proper appropriations are allocated to support this national effort and that they are fully supported and implemented by the Trump Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, while Equitas Health welcomes this national-level commitment to join in efforts to combat HIV, Equitas Health has some concerns given President Trump and Vice President Pence's deeply troubling record on HIV/AIDS issues.

The Trump Administration has enacted and continues to propose administrative rules and policies that would undermine the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid—on which nearly all people living with HIV in care in the United States rely for affordable and nondiscriminatory healthcare coverage. Most recently, in just the last few months, the Trump Administration has proposed two new administrative rules that will affect access to lifesaving HIV medications under Medicare Part D and will create a license to discriminate against members of the most at-risk and marginalized communities. Putting an end to these troubling policies is a modest first step the Administration must take.

"Central to our mission at Equitas Health is providing a pathway to health and wellbeing for our patients who are at risk of or who are affected by HIV/AIDS. Equitas Health provides care to more than 67,000 individuals each year, nearly 5,200 of whom participate in Ryan White-funded programming, which provides linkage to essential HIV treatment, care, and support services to which they otherwise would not have access. We are committed—as we have been since our organization's inception—to doing our part to combat the HIV epidemic in the United States," said Bill Hardy, President and CEO of Equitas Health.

Equitas Health welcomes President Trump's involvement in the goal of ending the HIV epidemic, using breakthrough ART, PrEP, and other proven strategies. But it will take more than words, including drastic changes to his policy approach. "The science exists to eradicate HIV, but science alone will not get us to our goal. We need equitable access to nondiscriminatory health care and safety net programs that support people living with HIV and ensure access to services," said Hardy.

Established in 1984, Equitas Health (formerly AIDS Resource Center Ohio), is a regional not-for-profit community-based healthcare system and federally qualified community health center look-alike. Its expanded mission has made it one of the nation's largest HIV/AIDS, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) healthcare organizations. With 17 offices in 11 cities, it serves more than 67,000 individuals in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia each year through its diverse healthcare and social service delivery system focused around: primary and specialized medical care, community pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, HIV/STI prevention, advocacy, and community health initiatives. In 2019, the Buckeye Regional Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) became a part of Equitas Health.

The Equitas Health Pharmacy & Prizm magazine operate as social enterprises for Equitas Health; 100% of profits are reinvested back into the organization's programs and services.