This week, the Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), along with thirteen organizations working to advance the health and rights of women living with HIV in the United States, sent a series of policy directives to the Office of National AIDS Policy and related federal agencies. The directives are meant to inform the broader health care reform effort the Administration is undertaking and are compiled in a report entitled “Critical Issues for Women and HIV: Health Policy and Development of a National AIDS Strategy.” The report identifies several priorities of a national AIDS and health care strategy that is responsive to the needs of women living with HIV:
(1) Recognition of the correlation between fulfillment of human rights obligation and improvements in health care and outcomes for women;
(2) Integration of health care and sexual/reproductive health services that ensure that women receive consistent, high-quality services;
(3) Elimination of government-reinforced stigma and discrimination against people with HIV;
(4) Elimination of health disparities based on gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, class/economic status as a central part of health care reform; and
(5) Meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in all aspects of decision-making on policies affecting their communities.
The report centralizes respect for women’s autonomy in testing and treatment decisions. The authors therefore endorsed the importance of counseling and documented consent in HIV testing, affirming that broad support exists for patient-centered, informed decision making in HIV care among those typically excluded from state and national AIDS policy development.
CHLP partnered with African Services Committee, AIDS Alabama, Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina, CHAMP, Center for Health and Gender Equity, HIV Law Project, International Community of Women Living with HIV, National AIDS Fund, National Women and AIDS Collective, Sisterlove, Inc., U.S. Positive Women’s Network, Women’s Collective, and Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Disease to draft the directives. Representatives from these organizations plan to meet with administration officials, including Jeff Crowley, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, in the coming months to discuss the recommendations and their inclusion in a national AIDS strategy.
The report and recommendations are available in CHLP’s Resource Bank here.