The “America Grow Up” campaign begins with the iconic imagery of a timeworn American flag inspired by artist Jasper Johns’s Flag that represents a nation that, over more than two centuries, has withstood countless challenges to become the great nation it is today. The campaign builds upon that historical image by adding three additional words that are especially relevant for the health of Americans today: use a condom. While many European countries have long used frank or even provocative public health messages to raise awareness, America has been slower to shed its long-held inhibitions—especially regarding the need for direct, candid sexual health education.
In this presidential election year, many young Americans will turn 18 and exercise their right to vote for the first time. As young people accept the responsibility to become informed members of the voting population, they—along with all sexually active adults—must be reminded to become sexually responsible adults by using condoms and having regular screenings for STDs and HIV. With young people aged 15-24 years acquiring half of all new STDs according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young adults are the most at-risk population for contracting STDs. While the widespread usage of mobile dating apps and America’s “hook up” culture has made it easier than ever to engage in casual sex, AHF wants to remind all sexually active people that practicing safer sex by using condoms is a necessary responsibility that comes with being an adult.
For more information and to locate AHF’s STD/HIV screening and treatment services, visit www.useacondom.com
500,000 Lives In Care
In July 1990, the organization known as the AIDS Hospice Foundation, a network of hospices founded out of the desire to provide compassionate care to people dying from AIDS in Los Angeles during the heyday of the AIDS crisis, became known as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). This change reflected AHF’s new mission to help HIV-positive people live well with the disease by providing access to advanced medical care and treatment regardless of their ability to pay.
Since it was first founded in 1987, AHF has determinedly expanded its operations in the United States and abroad to offer quality patient care to underserved populations and remain at the forefront of the international war against AIDS. By combining cutting age medicine with public advocacy, strategic partnerships and compelling marketing campaigns, AHF continues to break through barriers to ensure governmental support of people living with HIV/AIDS across the globe and is today the largest AIDS service provider in the world.
This year, AHF is proud to celebrate the momentous milestone of having 500,000 patients in its care in the 36 countries where it currently has operations, including South Africa where over half of our patients reside. We are honored to salute our dedicated medical professionals, staff and volunteers who work to provide personalized care to the men, women and children who trust us with their medical care and look to us for daily encouragement.
Greedy drug company lobbyists have tried to sneak changes into the 340B Drug Discount program that is the lifeblood for hospitals, clinics and safety-net providers that serve low-income patients. Given AHF’s mission to provide cutting-edge medicine and advocacy to our patients regardless of their ability to pay, we have joined in national efforts to expose and stop these undercover attempts by pharmaceutical company lobbyists to make changes to this lifesaving program without public notice. Even though the 340B program represents just two percent of US drug sales in a multi-billion-dollar industry that generates higher profit margins than any other, big pharma wants more. We are determined to stop the drug companies’ efforts to gut a federal program that helps the neediest so they can fatten their already-overstuffed wallets.
Provisions of TPP that Will Negatively Affect Drug Access:
- TPP will water down language contained in TRIPS (The agreement known as Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the primary international set of rules governing patents, including on medicines), which currently allows countries to circumvent drug patents in case of public health emergencies.
- Evergreening – TPP will allow patenting of existing compounds with minor changes, even if there is no significant clinical benefit. (Eg: Medicine changed from a pill to a syrup form would be eligible for a brand new patent).
- TPP will eliminate pre-patent opposition. Currently under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, a third party, such as an advocacy group, can challenge the granting of a patent during the patent application stage.
L.A. County: 24,000 HIV+ Not In Care
In January 2015, AHF began running its “24,000 Not In Care” billboards in Los Angeles County to draw attention to the number of residents in our nation’s most populous county who are living with HIV but are currently not in medical care to treat the disease. Featuring a cutaway image of a floating iceberg that draws upon the well-known fact that what lies beneath the visible “tip” of an iceberg is much greater than what most people would think, the message is based on figures included in LA County’s FY 2014 Ryan White Part A application. County officials estimate that in addition to the 13,329 residents living with HIV who are aware of their status and yet are not receiving medical care to treat the disease (page 25), there are 10,500 HIV+ residents who are unaware of their status and therefore are not virally suppressed (page 6). The billboards serve as a powerful reminder that while local efforts to encourage HIV/AIDS testing and treatment have achieved a respectable degree of success, the population of LA County residents living with HIV who are not virally suppressed—whether they are aware of their status or not—poses a significant risk to public health if these individuals are left undiagnosed or untreated.Ninety percent of new HIV infections in the United States come from people living with HIV who are not in care for the disease the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared in its February 2015 HIV Surveillance Report. Being in care and taking medication prevents HIV from being transmitted.
TAKE ACTION: Call the Dept. of Public Health to tell them “Do MORE and Do BETTER!”
Cynthia Harding: (213) 240-8146
Mario Perez: (213) 351-8001
California: #2 in Syphilis
This billboard – a clear homage to the California flag, but with its iconic Grizzly bear smacking a paw to his forehead in a moment of “D’oh!” – highlights the astounding rate of syphilis diagnoses in California, which has shown a worrisome increase over the past year. According the CDC’s 2012 nationwide surveillance of syphilis rates in the U.S., California’s rate of 7.2 syphilis cases per 100,000 people is second only to Georgia’s rate of 7.8, the highest of the 50 states. In 2013, the state of California saw 3,600 cases of late latent syphilis, 2,900 cases of early latent syphilis, and 3,500 cases of primary and secondary syphilis, which was an increase of 18% from the number of cases in 2012, according to a July 1 announcement from the CDC. The billboard promotes www.freeSTDcheck.org, where the public can find locations to access free STD testing and affordable care for the treatment of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis through AHF.
“God Loves HIV+ Me”:
This series of billboards aims to fight HIV stigma head-on, and to provide a beacon of emotional light for those living with HIV who hold deep spiritual beliefs. The simple displays feature one person – currently HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent on one version and AHF advocate Jimmy Ramsey on the other – wearing a red T-shirt that unabashedly identifies them as HIV+ and standing among text that causes the billboard to read “God Loves HIV+ Me”. The messages can offer a reminder of the comfort of faith to a newly diagnosed person in the United States, or help those who can’t see the breadth of God’s love understand that no one – especially those living with health conditions – are excluded from it. However they speak to each individual, these powerful messages are sure to inspire thought-provoking dialogue about faith and HIV.