OAC’s 7th Annual Leadership Summit for HIV Positive Young Adults

The Ohio AIDS Coalition’s Seventh Annual Leadership Summit for

HIV Positive Young Adults (18-29)

 March 15-17, 2013 – Columbus, Ohio

HIV positive young adults face a unique combination of issues related to their age and HIV status.

Numerous HIV efforts targeting young adults are based solely in education and screening, discounting those who already have an HIV positive diagnosis. Medical care alone does not address integral familial, social, community, and personal issues. Social support, access to community and treatment; and developmental issues are complicated by: HIV transmission route (e.g. perinatal or behavioral); time since diagnosis; family medical and social histories; geographic location; age and other social determinants.

OAC began the Leadership Summit for HIV Positive Young Adults in an effort to prepare HIV positive young people from across the state in the life skills necessary for optimal engagement and retention in care as well as improved overall health outcomes.

The workshops run the gamut of social and medical issues, and have included in the past: positive sexual health; disclosure issues; storytelling and advocacy; building goals for the future, creative arts; medical care and treatment, nutrition, exercise and body image, and many more. Workshops are taught by professionals in their respective fields.

Goals & Objectives:

The OAC Leadership Summit for HIV Positive Young Adults will engage participants in both self-expression and personal development. Participants will report increased:

  • Comfort and ability in self-expression (including but not limited to disclosure);
  • Skill development focusing on building and maintaining relationships, basics of HIV infection/treatment, and workforce preparation;
  • Strategies for improving healthcare and self-advocacy skills
  • Knowledge of community resources available for further training opportunities;
  • Education of the benefits for enrolling in medical care and support for remaining in care and treatment.

Please consider encouraging the young clients of your agency to attend this program. Application deadline is February 22, 2013.

For more information, contact Bill Arnold at 1-800-226-5554.

 

OAC Applauds Ohio Voters for their Engagement

Dear Friend,

With almost 100% of all precincts across Ohio reporting their results, the General Election is over. Voting is closed, the votes are counted, and we know who has been elected into office. We’ve heard and seen candidates give their concession and acceptance speeches all over the country, and we have some new faces and some more seasoned faces in political office. The country now has an openly gay Senator, a disabled U.S. Representative, and marriage equality in two more states. We now have a President, Ohio Senator, and State Senators and Representatives who are ready for the road ahead. And they couldn’t have done this without you.

In the months leading up to the election, we knew that Ohio would be a key player in deciding not just the election results. Ohio’s results would affect those crucial policies that we have advocated so hard for – the future of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid reform, Ryan White Reauthorization, Ohio’s redistricting, and many others. We elected political officials who will determine the health education that our children receive in schools, who will defend people living with HIV/AIDS in the justice system, who will promote job growth as a means for a healthier society, and who will propose balanced approaches to reducing our national debt.

The Ohio AIDS Coalition, a division of AIDS Resource Center Ohio, would like to thank each and every one of you for participating in this election season. Regardless of who you voted for, we heard your voice loud and clear. We thank those of you who attended our voter education forums to become empowered and informed voters. Thank you to those who helped get out the vote and transport people to the polls. If you voted early at home, early this past weekend at your local board of elections, or yesterday at your polling site, thank you. We also want to thank those of you who worked the polling locations to ensure that democracy was maintained in highly contested areas of the state. Engaging in this civic and political process is a personal choice, and we applaud you for making that choice to show Ohio and the United States what you’re made of.

Most of all, thank you for allowing us to move forward as a community, state, and country. Our community of Ohioans living with HIV/AIDS, family members and friends, professionals, and organizational partners is stronger as a result of this election.

As we move forward on the Road to 2014, stay engaged and informed by following our website www.ohioaidscoalition.org, facebook page, twitter, and blog postings. We have a lot more work to do in the coming months, and we’ll be counting on you for help.

Federal Funds were not used in the production or distribution of this message.

The Emotions of Voting

Voting has always been an emotional event for me. You know that poster of cartoon faces that kids are often shown to help them recognize different emotions? You could easily replace my face on that poster because I go through them all. Angry, frustrated, sad, scared, excited, anxious… the list goes on.

Lately, anger and frustration have been more recurring emotions in these last few weeks. I get angry when I hear blatant false statements from candidates saying that they “support a woman’s right to choose” and want to “protect the middle class” when their records show otherwise. I get frustrated when I see community members not giving a damn about the election. I’m even that woman yelling at her radio in the car because she’ll go crazy if she hears another political ad.

I also feel sad, anxious, and scared for what has transpired over the last few months and what could happen come Wednesday morning. It makes me sad to see friends giving up on voting because they feel so jaded by the process. It makes me sad to know that it took a natural disaster, Hurricane Sandy, for our major political parties to come together and truly do what’s best for Americans.

Most of all, I am scared and anxious for what could happen when I wake up on Wednesday morning. I’m anxious to find out who will be our President for the next four years. My anxiety grows as the polling numbers come in, showing the difference between the two candidates getting smaller and smaller. It’s a tight race folks, and that is what scares me the most.

It scares me to know what could happen to the future of healthcare and minority rights after the election. As a woman and a religious minority, it scares me to think of how my fundamental rights could be controlled or legislated by someone who has no idea what it’s like to walk in my shoes.

As you can tell, voting is not something I take lightly. I’ve learned that for me, the only way to get through it is to accept my emotions for what they are and bring them with me to my polling location. Recognizing and accepting those feelings is what makes my blood boil and my heart beat quickly as I cast my vote. I channel that anger and frustration, that sadness and anxiety, and that excitement into taking ownership of something that is rightfully mine as a citizen of Ohio and of the United States of America.

So whatever you’re feeling this weekend, Monday, and Tuesday, own it. If you’re feeling anxious that you’ve never done this before, you’re not the only one. Ask a friend or poll worker to help you. If you’re feeling angry that another candidate could win the election, channel that anger into a productive discussion with friends on why they should vote for the other guy. If you’re feeling confused about the language you’re reading on your ballot, ask someone to translate it for you into plain English.

As anxious as I am, I’m excited to vote on Tuesday. I challenge you to do the same and bring your emotions with you. And I hope and pray that we all have the emotional capacity to accept (or celebrate) the results.

-Sarah Sobel

Senior Community Engagement Coordinator

(This blog is a personal reflection, and is not a representation of OAC’s official position)

Ensure Optimal Care for Ohioans Living with HIV/AIDS! Value Your Voice!


 


As the nation continues to prepare for next week, where, Americans will once again cast their ballots for President of the United States and key Congressional seats of the House and Senate, the stakes of this election on the lives of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Ohio cannot be overstated.  Among those voters will be Ohioans living with HIV, as well as their families, friends, care providers, and others working to end HIV/AIDS.

The 2012 Election is incredibly important for our clients living with HIV/AIDS. Voting in any election gives us a voice in the political process. Voting gives us, the constituents, power to elect political officials who represent our daily challenges, our needs, and our hopes for the future. If you’ve never signed a petition, called your representative about an important issue, or been involved in any other political activity, voting is your opportunity to speak up.

The most important outcome from the election is whether the Affordable Care Act [ACA], designed by President Obama, will be maintained or repealed. Health care access for 30 million uninsured Americans is at stake, and the myriad changes to health systems that are underway at the federal and state levels could be undermined by any decisions by a new presidential administration that opposes the legislation. Currently, too many people with HIV can’t purchase insurance—either because their HIV is considered a pre-existing condition or because it’s simply too expensive to purchase insurance. So the ACA’s removal of the pre-existing condition barrier is hugely important for people with HIV and would mean many Ohioans have access to health insurance for the first time ever.

With four sitting Supreme Court justices over the age of 70, the next President could decide the composition of our nation’s highest court for decades to come. And as sequestration threatens more than $650 million in funding for HIV/AIDS programs across the country, the outcome of this election could influence any deal Congress works out to avoid these disastrous cuts.

As a 501(c)3 organization, it’s not our role to ask people to vote for a specific candidate, but that does not mean we do not have a responsibility to ensure continued equitable access to information about the

Democratic process and what our rights are as eligible voters in the United States. AIDS Resource Center Ohio (ARC Ohio) and Ohio AIDS Coalition (OAC) are committed to educating voters on relevant ballot issues and providing nonpartisan candidate information so that we elect the best person to represent our needs.

Tuesday’s vote will also decide the future of critical social policies like LGBT equality, funding for women’s health programs, including our partners at Planned Parenthood, and hot button issues like federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage education and syringe services programs.

We encourage people to understand the candidates’ commitment to maintaining the “safety net” of supportive programs for people with HIV and public health programs that work toward preventing new HIV infections.

If all the talk is of reducing the deficit without any mention of revenue, then you have to look at Medicaid, Medicare, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, HIV and sexually transmitted infections prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], and the National Institutes of Health [NIH]—all of those programs become a lot more vulnerable to some pretty serious cuts.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation blog, BETA, recently posted the following election outcome scenarios and their potential impact on our nation’s non-defense discretionary programs:

If Romney wins and the Congress enacts the budget proposed by his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, there would be minimum cuts of 22% per year for HIV programs, including HOPWA, Ryan White, and HIV prevention at the CDC. That’s on top of the 8.2% cuts required by sequestration!

If President Obama wins a second term, there are indications that the Congress will quickly cut a deal that alters the sequestration to avoid those budget cuts. But regardless of who wins the presidency, if the Congress is unable to come to agreement before the end of the calendar year, sequestration cuts will automatically enact and the U.S. will go over the fiscal cliff.

This column is not intended to endorse a presidential candidate. What BETA does endorse, and we support, is informed decisions about the leaders and policies that affect our health and our communities.

Unfortunately, many states have made it increasingly difficult to cast your vote. Courts across the country, including here in Ohio, are considering a number of controversial voter ID laws, as well as early voting rules, that effectively suppress minority and disabled voting. Given our constituency, we are extremely troubled by these trends. As part of our commitment to voter empowerment and engagement, OAC has launched a series voter education briefs that cover a wide range of topics such as Ohio voter identification regulations, the Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act, and nonpartisan candidate profiles. 

To help ensure that all our constituents have the information they need to exercise their constitutional right to vote, we encourage you to visit the Ohio AIDS Coalition webpage.

We are only 5 days away from an Election that will determine the ways in which we are able to provide life-saving access to prevention, care and treatment services to those living with and at highest risk for HIV/AIDS. Whichever way you cast your vote on November 6, make sure it’s an educated choice. Every vote will matter. Value Your Voice – Vote!