$1.6 billion saved via provider rate cuts, spending reductions and service limitations
CHICAGO – The Illinois House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved major reforms and budget cuts to the Illinois Medicaid system.

The House voted 94-22 for legislation, Senate Bill 2840 sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), that slices $1.6 billion from the Illinois Medicaid system through a combination of health care provider rate cuts and the reduction or elimination of health care services to the poor.

“This bill is the result of months of deliberations and negations between legislators, hospitals, providers, health care organizations, advocates and other key stakeholders,” Feigenholtz said. “We have done as much as possible to deliver these cuts with the least amount of impact to vulnerable populations.”

Under the proposal, doctors, dentists, federally qualified health centers, government hospitals, safety net hospitals, and critical access hospitals would see no reduction in their current reimbursement rates while all other hospitals would experience a 3.5% rate cut, according to Feigenholtz. Nursing homes would have their rates cut 10% for low need patients and 1% for high need patients.

Adult Medicaid patients’ services would be limited, including eyeglasses, wheelchair repairs, and physical therapy services. Prescription drugs for all patients would be limited to four per month, although this cap could be lifted with doctor approval. The Illinois Cares Rx senior prescription drug program will be eliminated completely.

Additionally, eligibility for Family Care, which offers coverage to low-income parents, would be reduced to 133% of the federal poverty level.

“Our goal has always been to make the ‘least worst’ decisions when making these cuts,” said Feigenholtz. “Although painful, I am confident that these reforms will make the system more stable and efficient to ensure that a strong Medicaid system can continue to provide care for the most vulnerable.”

Yet-to-be-introduced legislation raising the state tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack would generate $350 million in new revenue. A 100% federal match would add an additional $350 million to help fund Medicaid services.

Senate Bill 2840 now awaits consideration by the Senate and final approval by Governor Pat Quinn.

For more information, contact Feigenholtz’s constituent services office at (773) 296-4141 or sara@staterepsara.com.

 
 
FREE Mini Health Exams, and a Chance to Win FREE Gym Passes
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Committed to providing quality healthcare to the entire community, Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) will launch First Friday Fitness. On the first Friday of each month from October through December 2011, the Triadmedical staff will provide FREE mini health examinations. These examinations will include a general health assessment of blood pressure, temperature, weight, height, body mass index and the staff will answer any general question you might have about your lifestyle. After these evaluations, tips on how to improve your personal health and future appointment scheduling will be available.

Health screenings will take place on Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, from noon and 4 p.m., at the Brown Elephant resale location at 5404 N. Clark Street in Chicago.  FREE gym passes, and healthy snacks.

SourceHoward Brown Health Center press release


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WHEN WHOOPI SPEAKS, CHICAGO HOUSE LISTENS!
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Join us on November 4th at the third installment of our annually sold out Speaker Series Luncheon! Whoopi is an outspoken supporter of LGBT equality, HIV and AIDS activism, and issues related to homelessness and poverty.  She stands for everything Chicago House is about, and we can’t wait to hear her “View” on what’s important to us.

Tickets and tables are selling fast, book now to be sure you don’t miss the event all of Chicago is buzzing about!
Date: Friday, November 4, 2011 • Time: 11:30am-2:00pm
Where: Palmer House Hilton, Grand Ballroom • 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL.
To contact Sharla Nolte at 773.248.5200 ext. 303.

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Macy’s on State street and Chicago House invite you to take a first look at the newest Designer and Impulse Collections for Men including Hugo Boss, Armani Jeans, French Connection and more!

Enjoy complimentary cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, healthy snacks from Protein Bar, sweet treats from Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique, fashion presentations and our live DJ while you shop. Also receive a complimentary skincare treatment from Lab Series Skincare, nail buffing from KIVA Salon and a free sample of Gucci Guilty fragrance for men.

Save $50.00 with your purchase of $200 or more in Men’s Designer and Impulse day of event. Plus take home a gift bag with your purchase of $200 or more.  For more information visit macys.com/events or @macysevents on Twitter.

Date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 Time: 5:30pm Where: Macy’s State Street, 111 North State, Chicago, IL

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The AIDS Run & Walk Chicago, October 1, 2011!
Friday, September 16th, 2011

Mark your calendar to join the AIDS Run & Walk event on October 1, 2011. The AIDS Run & Walk Chicago is a fund raising event that directly helps Chicago House and hundreds of other HIV/AIDS organizations in the Chicago area. Specifically, our team efforts will support programs and services for over 1,200 HIV affected men, women, and children of Chicago House. This is one amazing event because even your registration fee of $25 will go directly back to Chicago House!  If you are interested in volunteering contact Chris Matthews, cmatthews@aidschicago.org.

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Medicare Guidance To Financial Protection to Same Sex Couples
Sunday, June 12th, 2011

HHS delivers guidance to state Medicaid agencies on states’ freedom and flexibility to offer financial protections to same-sex couplesToday, HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provided guidance to state Medicaid agencies clarifying that they are able to offer same-sex couples many of the same financial and asset protections available to opposite-sex couples when a partner is entering a nursing home or care facility.  In a letter sent today, CMS advised state agencies of their ability to ensure that same-sex partners can remain in shared homes without Medicaid liens being applied.  The guidance also clarifies that states have the flexibility to protect same-sex partners under estate recovery and transfer of assets rules.

“Low-income same-sex couples are too often denied equal treatment and the protections offered to other families in their greatest times of need,” saidHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “This is now changing. Today’s guidance represents another important step toward  ensuring that the rights and dignity of every American are respected by their government. ”

Millions of families each year face difficult decisions associated with placing family members in nursing home care.  Medicaid, which is the largest payer of nursing home services in the country, requires individuals in need of care to have exhausted most of their personal income and assets before qualifying for this long-term care benefit.  There are protections, however, that ensure that the spouse of a Medicaid nursing home resident may remain in the couple’s home.  While states may place liens on the property of an individual needing care, if there is a spouse in the home, states must protect that spouse from having a lien attached to their home.  For same-sex couples these protections do not always apply.

Today’s announcement clarifies that states can extend these protections when the same-sex spouse or domestic partner of the Medicaid enrollee continues to reside in their home.  The letter also outlines how states can apply other protections to same-sex spouses or domestic partners, for example, by allowing individuals needing institutional care to transfer ownership of their homes without financial penalties. States have the choice of extending these protections.

“Medicaid gives states remarkable flexibility to set these kinds of policies,” said Cindy Mann, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) who directs the Medicaid division within the agency.  “We want to assure states that they are within the law when they make the choice to extend equal financial rights and protections to all of their citizens receiving Medicaid services, regardless of sexual orientation.”

View CMS’s letter to State Medicaid Agencies at http://www.cms.gov/SMDL/SMD/list.asp

Source: HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

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Millions To Support Community Development & Affordable Housing
Monday, May 30th, 2011

Nearly $240 million to support community development and affordable housing  in Illinois

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the final Fiscal Year 2011 block grant allocations to approximately 1,200 state and local governments under the Community Development Block Grants(CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), and the Emergency Shelter Grant Program (ESG).

The FY 2011 Continuing Resolution significantly reduced funding for the CDBG and HOME programs compared to last year.  The CDBG overall funding was reduced by more than $600 million or approximately 16.5 percent while the HOME program funding was reduced by more than $200 million or approximately 11.7 percent.

“These programs are absolutely critical to communities all across this country,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.  “The 2011 budget agreement required tough choices, and we would not have made many of them in better circumstances, but beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America win the future and compete for new jobs. As we work under the challenges of our nation’s deficit, we must also understand that these programs are absolutely essential in promoting community development, producing affordable housing, helping our homeless and even supporting long-term disaster recovery.”

“This funding provides the building blocks needed in Illinois to improve communities, produce affordable housing and help low-income persons find their place within those communities”, said Antonio R. Riley, HUD’s Midwest Regional Administrator.

Since 1974, HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program has provided approximately $132 billion to state and local governments to target their own community development priorities.

Source: http://www.hud.gov/news/index.cfm

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Feigenholtz Passes Medicaid Maximization Legislation
Friday, May 6th, 2011

Legislation brings additional $100 million; enables speedier payments to Illinois providers

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Working to provide essential care to Illinois residents and not leave Federal ARRA matching dollars on the table, State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) passed legislation aimed at garnering an enhanced federal match of Medicaid funding set to expire June 30, 2011.

“The state simply cannot afford to miss an opportunity to reap  nearly $100 million in federal ARRA enhanced matching funds for Medicaid that can be used to pay vendors, provide vital care and keep Illinois healthy,” Feigenholtz said.  “Time is of the essence and we must take advantage of this enhanced rate before it expires. We are experiencing an economic downturn; it makes no sense to leave so much money on the table when it can be helping Illinois residents.”

Feigenholtz’s amendment to House Bill 2934 would authorize short-term transfer between state funds for the purpose of paying down Medicaid liability in order to take advantage of an enhanced federal match that will expire June 30, 2011. Currently, the federal match for Medicaid is 57 percent.  After June 30, the match will precipitously drop to 50 percent.  By paying Medicaid bills early, it is estimated that the state could save $90 million.

“We must take advantage of this increased rate before it disappears for good,” Feigenholtz said.  “If we do not act quickly we run the very real risk of losing a lot of money that can be doing a lot of good. $90 million dollars can go an awfully long way toward paying vendors and keeping our loved ones healthy. I will continue fighting for ways to be economically-responsible while providing critical care to the people of Illinois.”

Source: press release



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Truvada FDA Approval Halted
Friday, April 22nd, 2011

LOS ANGELES (April 18, 2011)–On the heels of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announcement earlier today that an ongoing study of the use of Gilead’s top selling AIDS treatment, Truvada, as a possible form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention in women is being abruptly halted because the, “…trial could not demonstrate efficacy,” the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) renewed its call on Gilead Sciences to slow its fast track pursuit of its application for FDA approval of use of its AIDS drug as a possible form of HIV prevention. AHF notes that disappointing results of a similar earlier study of PrEP in men who have sex with men (MSM) coupled with today’s announcement of the failure of women’s study—before it was even concluded—indicate officials at Gilead should put the brakes on approval of its top-selling AIDS drug as prevention.

In a Dear Colleague’ letter dated today (April 18, 2011) Kevin A. Fenton, M.D., Ph.D. Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention and Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., M.P.H. Director, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention wrote:

“Today, FHI announced that it will stop the FEM-PrEP study of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention among heterosexual women.  The decision was made after a regularly scheduled interim review of data by the trial’s independent data monitoring committee determined that the trial could not demonstrate efficacy even if it continued to its originally-planned conclusion.”

“While the failure of this latest study examining Gilead’s use of Truvada as a form of pre-exposure prophylaxis in women is unfortunate, this news, coupled with the disappointing results of a similar earlier study of PrEP in men who have sex with men indicates that officials at Gilead should slow down their fast track pursuit of FDA-approval of use of its AIDS drug Truvada as a possible form of HIV prevention,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “Clearly Gilead should take the news today of this failed study in women as well as the unacceptable study results in its previous MSM study to heart, delay seeking FDA-approval for use of Truvada as prevention and concentrate on further studies and clinical trials. Relying on the one study conducted in MSM that showed marginal success is simply not acceptable or sufficient for extending the approved use of this drug.”

Truvada, a drug compound that consists of Gilead’s drugs Viread (tenofovir DF) and Emtriva (emtricitabine), is currently FDA-approved for use as part of antiretroviral therapy combinations for individuals already living with HIV or AIDS. FDA-approval for pre-exposure use as a possible form of HIV prevention for those NOT infected with the virus would be a first for the FDA, and a move that AHF and many other AIDS advocates believe would set a dangerous precedent.

Gilead’s likely pursuit of FDA-approval for expanding the use of its best selling $35 per day AIDS drug to include use as a form of HIV prevention comes following a recent and widely-reported study of 2,500 high risk gay men using Truvada which showed a 44% effectiveness rate in preventing HIV transmission.

In 2010, Truvada was Gilead’s second-best selling product generating over $2.6 billion in revenue. One analyst told Bloomberg that FDA-approval to prescribe the drug for pre-exposure prophylaxis may add $1 billion to Gilead’s sales of Truvada.

Source: AIDS Healthcare Foundation press release



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Medicaid Secrets: Attorney Reveals How To Protect Your Family’s Assets
Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Will Your Parents Be Able To Afford A Nursing Home When The Time Comes?  It’s the conversation people don’t have until they have to, but by then, it’s too late.

The fact is that in 2010, more than 7,000 people turned 65 years old or older every single day, a figure that is predicted to rise in 2011. Further, an AARP survey revealed that only 4 in 10 of those people feel they will be financially secure for their golden years.

For many, that lack of financial stability will transform from being a worry to becoming a crisis if they discover they’ll need any kind of assisted living. That’s why Gabriel Heiser, an attorney with more than 25 years of experience in nursing home law, believes that people should start planning now, even if they aren’t close to their 65th birthdays.

“The average monthly cost of a nursing home today is $6,917 per month, and a typical Alzheimer’s patient will spend $395,000 for their nursing home careafter diagnosis,” said Heiser, author of How to Protect Your Family’s Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets (www.MedicaidSecrets.com). “Those costs are only going to rise, so it’s important to plan now. One important benefit to consider is Medicaid, which can help offset a good amount of those costs, but only if you know what it takes to qualify for those benefits.”

The mistake a lot of people make is thinking that they can’t qualify for Medicaid, according to Heiser.

“Many feel that because they own a home or have some assets that they can’t qualify for Medicaid help with their nursing home and doctor’s bills,” he said. “The truth is there are a variety of assets people can own and still qualify. It’s just a matter of knowing the rules, and making a plan to meet those requirements.”

Heiser listed the asset limits for those applying for Medicaid. They include:
Cash – You can possess $2,000 cash that will not be counted as an asset in determining your Medicaid eligibility.
Home – There is a $500,000 exclusion toward your home, meaning that if your home is valued at $500,000 or less at the time of your application, it is excluded as an asset. Some states use the higher permitted exemption of $750,000.
Car – Up until recently, you could exclude only one car at a value of $4,500 or less, however that law has been changed. Now, one automobile of ANY current market value is excluded on your application.
Funeral and Burial Funds – If you have a pre-planned funeral or memorial arrangement, the entire value of that plan is excluded. If you do not, a separate bank account that contains $1,500 toward funeral expenses can be excluded. If you have pre-purchased burial plots, you can exclude not only the costs of the plot for the applicant, but for the entire family, and still be eligible for Medicaid.
Property – According to federal law, any real or personal property that is essential to self-support, regardless of value or rate of return, is excluded. That could include farms, rental properties and other real estate investments that generate income necessary for self-support. For rental income, however, the property must generate at least 6 percent of its value annually in order to qualify for the exclusion.
Life Insurance – Only the cash value of a life insurance policy owned by the applicant is counted, thus, all term policies are ignored.

“There are so many other rules that can benefit those who aren’t sure they’ll have enough when the time comes,” Heiser added. “The key is to plan now and act now. These laws exist for your protection, and avoiding the discussion and the planning necessary to take care of the potential complications just because it is an unpleasant topic will only result in a more unpleasant conversation when you realize you’re not ready when the worst happens. That can be a very expensive dilemma. Peace of mind right now, however, won’t cost a dime, and could save you hundreds of thousands of dimes later.”

About Gabriel Heiser: K. Gabriel Heiser , J.D., has focused exclusively on estate planning and Medicaid eligibility planning, including trusts, estates, gifts, and related tax issues, since graduating from Boston University School of Law in 1983.

Source: press release

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Institute of Medicine reinforces Howard Brown’s role in LGBT community services
Friday, April 8th, 2011

CHICAGO–April 7, 2011–Officials at Howard Brown Health Center have high praise for the new federal report that recognizes and calls international attention to the unique and important interdependencies between the nation’s overall health and the particular health of its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community. Issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the report, titled The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding, is the result of a one‐year ground‐breaking study commissioned by the National Institutes of Health. It presents several recommendations for continued methods for improving health care services and health research for the LBGT communities and urges researchers to proactively engage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in health studies and collect data on these populations to identify and better understand health conditions that affect individuals and families in these communities.

“As HBHC has been doing for years, the Institute of Medicine report urges the nation’s health providers and researchers to actively engage LGBT populations to determine the status of the community’s health and to fully understand what the unique health care needs of LGBT people,” said CEO of Howard Brown Health Center, Jamal Edwards.

Howard Brown Health Center officials contributed to the scientific committee that produced the IOM report, and its innovative THInC protocol for providing transgender sensitive healthcare and hormone therapy is cited as an exemplary model for unique culturally sensitive standards of care. The National Coalition for LGBT Health, of which Howard Brown Health Center is a member, and several of HBHC’s peer organizations across the country contributed to and are recognized in this ground‐breaking report, further confirming the significance of and need for the existing LGBT health centers throughout the country. The IOM report supports HBHC’s long‐standing initiative to collect uniform and informative data about the health needs and disparities of the LGBT community, in order to overcome the historical lack of data necessary for specialists and generalist to develop effective care and treatment models for LGBT people.

Edwards said these efforts are an important part of HBHC’s “Research Visioning Project,” which it announced to its staff last week. The project will leverage HBHC’s first‐hand clinical experience in directly caring for the medical and behavioral health of LGBT people to work with local and national researchers to identify the unique health care needs of LGBT people, now and in the future, and set forth a comprehensive, targeted research agenda that will help HBHC to continue developing innovative biomedical and behavioral interventions to improve the quality of health for LGBT people locally and nationally.

HBHC’s Chief Medical Officer Magda Houlberg, M.D., said the IOM report is particularly groundbreaking since it:
•Recommends collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity on all U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other federally funded health surveys in the same way that race and ethnicity data are collected.
•Calls for the NIH to create a research training program to support researchers explicitly include sexual and gender minorities in their samples 
•Recognizes LGBT as not a single entity, but several distinct groups with special health care access challenges.
Dr. Houlberg added that the report could also lead to more funding opportunities for LGBT research since the study recognizes the importance of research in eliminating LGBT health disparities.

Through its collaborative partnership with other Chicago‐based community health centers, HBHC has been pioneering the use of electronic health records and other health information technology in order to collect and leverage uniform data, to help improve and ensure the consistency and quality of care that LGBT people receive at HBHC and other local access points, where the quality currently varies. “The IOM report validates what we are already doing and compels us to continue our efforts,” said Edwards.

The report also dovetails with the National Healthy People 2020 Report, around which HBHC has been developing its future health priorities and research initiatives for 2012 and beyond. That report recognized that discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. And both reports, ultimately, validate Howard Brown Health Center’s belief that eliminating LGBT health disparities, requires community health centers like HBHC who are dedicated to expanding access to quality health care for all LGBT people, and improving the overall quality of primary care services in order to ensure that LGBT individuals can lead long, healthy lives. “HBHC has been a pioneer in training health care professionals to provide quality, culturally competent and compassionate health care to LGBT people, for decades,” said Edwards. “The IOM’s Report and the Healthy People 2020 supports and further compels this long‐standing belief and our future agenda that quality health care for all people, especially LGBT people is a right, not a choice and, ultimately, is of paramount priority for improving the overall health of all communities.”

Source: HBHC press release www.howardbrown.org.


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LGBT health reccomendations from Secretary Sebelius to the President
Friday, April 1st, 2011

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed President Obama today with reccomendations to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as recommendations for future action. The recommendations were developed in response to the Presidential Memorandum on Hospital Visitation, which, in addition to addressing the rights of patients to designate visitors regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, directed the Secretary to explore additional steps HHS could take to improve the lives of LGBT people.

The HHS openlys states on public record: “For too long, LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve. That is now changing. HHS continues to make significant progress toward protecting the rights of every American to access quality care, recognizing that diverse populations have distinctive needs. Safeguarding the health and well-being of all Americans requires a commitment to treating all people with respect while being sensitive to their differences.”

The summary of actions recommended for the betterment of LGBT health and well-being included equal employment opportunity, hospital visitation policies, aging care, runaway and homeless youth services, anti-bullying efforts as well several other major key points and issues.

The complete list of HHS recommendations, descriptions and explanations is posted to the HHS government website here.



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Reform Close-up: Health Insurance Exchanges
Friday, February 18th, 2011

Imagine a virtual marketplace where small businesses and individuals obtain government-approved health insurance  and federal subsidies (or tax incentives) to defray the cost of coverage. By envisioning this concept, you have reached a basic understanding of “Health Insurance Exchanges“–a critical component of national health care reform.

According to the reform law, states must establish an insurance exchange by 2013 or the federal government will set up the exchange. The systems must be ready for consumers by 2014.

Even before national health care reform took effect, Massachusetts and Utah launched distinctly different state-based exchanges, but they have chosen opposing strategies for the systems. Massachusetts set up a complex exchange that gives officials the authority to reject insurers’ premium bids if they consider the proposals too high. Utah employs a more relaxed exchange that is comparable to a “farmers market,” according to Cheryl Smith, a director a Leavitt Partners and former director of the Utah Health Exchange Office.

A significant problem experienced with the exchanges thus far has been that consumers sometimes feel overwhelmed by the amount of options for private insurance, according to Rosemarie Day, president of Day Health Strategies and former deputy director and chief operating officer of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority in Massachusetts. She said that sometimes too many choices are just as bad as not enough choices.

Last month, California became the first state to pass legislation establishing an exchange as part of health care reform. Though the reforms may be vulnerable to the shifting winds of political change, many policymakers regard California’s approach to the exchange as a potential model for other states.

In 2011, Colorado’s General Assembly will decide on whether the state will sponsor an exchange. If the decision is “yes,”  lawmakers will begin hammering out details. In the latest Policy Speakout entry, Gretchen Hammer of the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved explains why exchanges hold much promise in providing coverage for Colorado’s uninsured.

Source: The Colorado Health Foundation and www.californiahealthline.org



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“OOO” La La! Trés Chic!
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

by David Cohen

Do It With Style

The “ooo”™ boutique has turned traditional condoms into fashionable, must-have accessories. Based in Los Angeles, the company is revolutionizing the way we think about condoms-–packaging them as unique gifts and accessories that sexually sophisticated, fun-loving urbanites would be proud to give and carry.

Featuring the work of up-and-coming artists, this fashion-forward, limited edition series lets you show off your sense of style, or impart a unique gift upon that art aficionado you’ve wanted to impress. Each of the three boxes in the Art of Lust line features a different pen and ink illustration and a corresponding type of condom.

The feel me™, rock me™ and savor me™ are  beautifully packaged with six exquisite, ultra-thin lubricated latex condoms. The feel me™ is unbelievably sheer for a truly natural feeling experience. The rock me™  gives you greater sensation and stimulation and the savor me™ condoms featuring the culinary classics–-chocolate, vanilla and strawberry–-to make more than just the taste buds tingle. Each box retails at $9.95.

All “ooo”™ boutique condoms are FDA approved, individually tested, and exceed all international standards for quality and reliability. The “ooo”™ boutique has more to offer in its sophisticated  collection. These condoms make a statement: “We believe that personal expression is self-awareness,”  a company representative says.

To find out more about these stylish, trendy condoms, or to make a purchase, visit www.oooboutique.com.



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Friday, January 28th, 2011 

From left to right: Deo-Go, EvolutionMAN and Spongeables.

1. We have all had that horrible poorly timed pit-stain reveal in front of someone we are still trying to impress, so make like a women’s deodorant commercial and save face (and your clothes) with Deo-Go! Deo-Go completely removes sweat and even deodorant stains! For more information visit www.getdeogo.com

2.  EvolutionMAN offers an amazing collection of men’s skincare staples with everything from shave cream, to exfoliant, and man-friendly cosmetics! Created by famed celebrity-Groomer Marco Berardini, EvolutionMAN leaves you feeling clean, fresh, and fantastic without the embarrassment of asking your girl-(or guy)-friend for her covergirl when you get a zit. Check them out  at  www.evolution-man.com

3. Spongeables has an AMAZING collection of patented release technology sponges that deliver a clean, fresh, and revitalizing spa experience every time you shower! With a special Anti-cellulite spongeable, this is a MUST HAVE for those   who want to get their beach-body ready for summer! www.spongeables.com


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Resolution of Contribution
Saturday, January 1st, 2011

The Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) suggests scoring some last-minute 2010 tax deductions via a charitable contribution to the Chicago nonprofit, empowerment and support service agency for people living with HIV/AIDS. Funds collected will benefit the organization’s 2011 programming.

With fiduciary sponsorship by its community and constituents in 2010, TPAN launched new programs, including In Care, The Life Program, and Housing Opportunities Secured as additional funding through the Elton John AIDS Foundation and others produced spectacular community events like Chicago Takes Off and the Ride for AIDSChicago.

Monetary gifts can be made online, with donations going directly to TPAN here.


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Agenda Calls for Interventions To Curb HIV among Gay and Bisexual Men
Friday, December 3rd, 2010

HealthHIV Applauds Inclusion of LGBT Health As Objective for Healthy People 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - HealthHIV applauds the Department of Health and Human Services’ launch of Healthy People 2020, the federal government’s agenda for improving the health of Americans, which includes for the first time a section devoted to LGBT health.  The blueprint includes a call for the development and dissemination of successful interventions to curb HIV rates among gay and bisexual men.“HealthHIV is working to meet the urgent need to expand access to proven HIV prevention interventions for gay and bisexual men, as well as develop new approaches to stop the spread of HIVwithin this population,” said HealthHIV Executive Director Brian Hujdich.  “We believe that addressing the health needs of the LGBT community is central to securing good health outcomes for all Americans, including people living with HIV.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 532,000 gay and bisexual men are living with HIV in the U.S.  Another estimated 28,700 gay and bisexual men in the U.S. are infected with HIV each year — a rate forty-four times higher than that of heterosexual men.  While new infections have declined among both heterosexuals and injection drug users, the annual number of new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men has steadily increased since the early 1990s.

HealthHIV is a leading national, 501(c)(3) non-profit working with organizations, communities and professionals to advance effective prevention, care, and support for people living with, or at risk for, HIV through education and training, technical assistance and capacity building, advocacy, andhealth services research and evaluation. HealthHIV supports primary care providers treating HIV, as well as community and faith-based organizations involved in HIV prevention, care and treatment.  For more information, please visit www.HealthHIV.org or www.NCHCMC.org.


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New Rules Grant Greater Medical Rights For Same-Sex Partners
Saturday, November 20th, 2010

HHS Says Hospitals Must Respect Patients’ Rights To Designate Visitors And Make Medical DecisionsNEW YORK – The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare issued new rules yesterday that require all hospitals that participate in Medicaid and Medicare to allow patients to designate who shall be allowed to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. The order will allow for same-sex partners to have the same rights as other immediate family members. The new rules will be published in the Federal Register on November 19.

“We are thankful that the administration has acknowledged that everyone should have the right to be with their loved ones in their times of need,” said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Nobody should have to suffer the indignity of having to justify who should be at their hospital bedside.”

The rules follow a directive issued by President Obama to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in April in which he noted that LGBT people are “uniquely affected” by being “unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.” Upon announcing the rules yesterday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “Basic human rights — such as your ability to choose your own support system in a time of need — must not be checked at the door of America’s hospitals.”

“Same-sex couples deserve the same respect during life’s most difficult moments as anyone else,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “We are glad President Obama insisted that HHS issue this directive to our nation’s hospitals so that all families can be there for each other when they need it most.”

The rules will require hospitals to have written policies and procedures to explain to patients that they have the right to choose who can visit them, that their visitors will have full and equal visitation rights and they have the right to withdraw their consent at any time.

Source: Press release via the ACLU

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Wait-listed ADAP Patients Slighted by New Program Participation
Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
Op Ed: Where is the Commitment to Helping with HIV/AIDS Drugs?by Jeffrey R. LewisAmerica’s commitment to helping tens of thousands of people suffering from HIV/AIDs obtain access to the medications they need to survive has failed. Instead, the White House, Members of Congress, Governors and State Legislators have created a new, life-threatening epidemic – functional malaise.

Why is there a problem when we have ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Programs) – a system of federally funded, state-run programs to supply low-income, uninsured individuals with access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications? Many states today face massive budget shortfalls and must cut services. At least 14 state ADAP programs have gone so far as to institute patient waiting lists. Nationally, more than 3,337 people living with HIV/AIDS now sit on waiting lists for essential medications. Both Ohio and Utah have taken people out of their programs because of eligibility restrictions.

The White House and Congress may boast about the passage of health reform legislation, but it fails to protect thousands of Americans suffering from some of the most serious illnesses. This is an affront to the LGBT community, and all Americans in need!

Despite more than $800 million set aside by the federal government to help those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS obtain crucial medication, thousands of seriously ill and impoverished Americans still go without the drugs that could save their lives.

The result? Skyrocketing hospital costs as these patients, who are much sicker for lack of proper treatment, end up in emergency rooms receiving medical care at the highest possible price.

What’s more, for AIDS patients who need a variety of drugs, the effort to obtain free drugs from programs run by the pharmaceutical manufacturers can be overwhelming due to complicated paperwork processes, different income-eligibility determinations by each manufacturer, lack of a single entry point and other hurdles. In other words, budget crises, combined with bureaucracy and wrapped in a blanket of indifference, have made this problem both severe and life threatening.

To bridge this gap, the Heinz Family Philanthropies, Abbott, Merck, Tibotec Therapeutics and Welvista created a market-based approach that underscores how philanthropy, business and nonprofits can work together to create solutions to vexing health problems.

The one-stop solution created through this partnership works quite simply: It eliminates all enrollment forms, making enrollment automatic for anyone certified on an ADAP waiting list.

Patients on the waiting lists who need access to no-cost Abbott, Merck or Tibotec HIV medications need only request that their state ADAP program representative contact Welvista. HIV/AIDS meds will be shipped directly to the patient or to a medical provider if so preferred. Program costs are covered by grants provided by all the participants and administered by Welvista. This market-based solution is a national initiative designed to help patients in any state.

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TPAN and Shanti Form Partnership to Launch LIFE Program
Friday, July 30th, 2010

Chicago, Illinois –– Chicagoans living with HIV/AIDS gain access to innovative health–enhancement program.

Shanti and Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) have implemented Learning Immune Function Enhancement (LIFE), an effective, health–enhancement program for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Enrollment for the first LIFE workshop begins August 11 at TPAN. Space is limited and registration is required. Participation is free, and open to all persons living with HIV/AIDS in Chicago.

LIFE incorporates the latest research in HIV, immunology, and health into a holistic model of care which empowers persons living with HIV to improve their health. During 13 weekly sessions, participants gain the knowledge, motivation, skills, and support necessary to manage biological, psychological, and social life issues that can impact immune functioning and overall health.

“TPAN has a long history of providing cutting–edge HIV/AIDS programs and services to meet the needs of our clients,” said TPAN’s Executive Director Bill Farrand. “Our collaboration with Shanti in creating a Chicago–based, LIFE program will benefit many of our clients while continuing to add to the variety and quality of TPAN’s programming.”

TPAN is the nation’s eighteenth site to offer LIFE, and the only site located in the greater Chicago area. Since 1991, LIFE has been implemented in six states and has improved health outcomes and quality of life for more than 3,000 HIV–positive people.

“We’ve seen participants gain amazing results from LIFE: their highest CD4+ counts since diagnosis, returning to work for the first time in years, or regaining life purpose and long term goals,” said Clayton Robbins, Director of Program Development at the Shanti LIFE Institute in San Francisco, California. “We are confident that Test Positive Aware Network is the ideal partner to implement LIFE in Chicago,” stated Kaushik Roy, Executive Director of Shanti.

For more information, visit www.tpan.com


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Obama Administration Releases AIDS Strategy With Important Anti-Discrimination Policies
Friday, July 23rd, 2010

In a critical acknowledgment of the discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS, the Obama administration today, in its newly released strategy, emphasized the government’s responsibility to enforce nondiscrimination laws and made clear that education about the transmission of HIV is crucial to fighting the stigma that many living with HIV face. The administration’s strategy is aimed at reducing HIV infections, redirecting resources to alleviate health disparities of those infected with HIV and increasing the accessibility and quality of health care.

“The Obama administration deserves credit for introducing this strategy to combat HIV and AIDS and for recognizing that HIV/AIDS is not only a public health issue, but also a civil rights issue,” said Laura W. MurphyDirector of the ACLUWashington Legislative Office. “Unfortunately, in this country and around the world, there remains a huge information gap about the true facts of HIV, and many living with the disease face unwarranted discrimination every day. Fighting discrimination is a crucial part of any strategy to combat HIV/AIDS.”

The new strategy reaffirms the need for evidence-based HIV prevention approaches, including condom distribution and needle exchange programs. The strategy also recognizes that HIV impacts different communities differently and specifically urges that resources be redirected to address the fact that many communities, including gay and bisexual men, transgender people and African-Americans, have a much higher mortality rate from AIDS. While the administration’s strategy contains many important and positive initiatives, it does fail to address the continued problem of inadequate funding and scarce resources to fight HIV/AIDS.

The administration’s strategy correctly calls on states to end counterproductive laws that criminalize behavior by people living with HIV, and urges states to reconsider laws that criminalize consensual sexual activity by those living with the disease. There are currently 32 states with these kinds of laws on the books, including criminal laws that single out people with HIV for spitting or biting, despite the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva.

“We are pleased that the administration has recognized that discrimination and stigma continue to be real barriers in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and that resources must be directed to the vulnerable groups who need it most,” said Rose Saxe, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU AIDS Project. “The fight to end discrimination and improve public education has a long way to go, but this is an important step.”

Much of the discrimination surrounding HIV and AIDS occurs in our nation’s prisons, where HIV positive prisoners are sometimes segregated from the greater prison population, forced to wear armbands declaring themselves HIV positive and are frequently denied equal participation in prison jobs, programs and re-entry opportunities that facilitate their successful transition back into society. As the administration’s strategy is implemented, the ACLU urges the administration to work to eliminate these harmful and discriminatory practices.

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UWUA 369, Entergy spar in arbitration over issue of same-sex marriage disparity in medical coverage 
Friday, July 16th, 2010

PLYMOUTH, MA, ISSUED JULY 14, 2010…A recent change in policy by Google has cast a wide shadow on a situation that is in arbitration between the Utility Workers Union of America (www.uwua369.org) and Entergy, the company which owns and operates the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, MA.

Christina Renaud, a Senior Operations Instructor at Pilgrim is represented by Local 369.  She is married to a woman, as is permitted under Massachusetts law.  Yet, despite the legal status of her marriage, Local 369 contends that she is being treated unfairly because she pays extra for medical coverage – currently more than $2,000 per year extra – for her and her spouse.

Local 369, which represents 300 production and maintenance, technical, and clerical employees at the plant, has gone to bat for Renaud, who holds a highly skilled technical job training other workers in plant operations.  The Union first went to management a year and a half ago and asked the company to reimburse Renaud.  The Union also offered to spread the cost of the employee share of the taxes out over the bargaining unit.  “Entergy, which prides itself on its diversity initiatives, refused” said UWUA Local 369 President David Leonardi.  “It just doesn’t make any sense.  We offered to help share the cost and they still said no”

The matter has gone to arbitration, and according to the Union, Entergy is violating its contractual agreement to share medical expenses based on a 75%/25% company/employee split of medical costs.  Renaud’s fellow employees are firmly behind her on this issue.  Coworker Fred Dicristofaro who filed and processed Christina’s grievance at arbitration comments reflects the sentiment of the workplace, “Harm to one is harm to all that is why we have a union that is why I am a Utility Worker, and we all stand with Christina.”

Under federal law, employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners are counted as taxable income if the partner is not considered a dependent. The tax is based on the value of the partner’s coverage as provided by the employer.

The issue is especially timely in light of two major developments in this area.  A June 30 New York Times article reports Google’s announcement that it would begin covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay.  Nine days later, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional with respect to claims brought by seven married same-sex couples and three widowers from Massachusetts. Under the ruling, the plaintiffs are entitled to the same federal spousal benefits and protections as other married couples.

According to the New York Times article, employees with same sex spouses or domestic partners will pay on average about $1,069 more annually in taxes than a married employee with the same coverage. Under the federal law that was challenged in the case before Judge Tauro, health care premiums for heterosexual married couples are not taxed, but health care premiums that benefit a same sex spouse are taxed, as are benefits for same or opposite sex domestic partners.  In Massachusetts, the state does not tax the health care benefit for a same sex spouse, but DOMA overrode Massachusetts law when it came to federal taxes.  Judge Tauro’s ruling, which is expected to be appealed, declared DOMA unconstitutional, paving the way for similar tax treatment of gay and straight married couples.

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Did Researchers Find a New Vaccine for HIV?
Friday, July 9th, 2010

Could the world be one-step closer to winning the fight against AIDS?  Yesterday, Thursday July 8, 2010, federal researchers reported online that a vaccine against the AIDS virus may have been found.

The researchers have identified a pair of naturally occurring antibodies that are able to kill more than 90 percent of all strains of the AIDS virus. That could lead to the development of new treatments for HIV infections and for the first time ever to new vaccine against the virus.

The HIV virus is notoriously mutable, changing its protein compositions all the time to escape from the body’s immune system. This allows the virus to continue infecting the cells even if the body creates antibodies targeting it. This is the reason why no effective vaccines have been  developed to date. The key to the new antibodies is that they don’t let the virus  change its mutations.

Dr. Gary Nabel of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who led this research, said in the online edition of the journal Science, “I am more optimistic about an AIDS vaccine at this point in time than I have been probably in the last 10 years.”

Dr. John Mascola, another vaccine researcher and co-author of two new studies added,  the research ”show[s] that the immune system can make very potent antibodies against HIV. We are trying to understand why they exist in some patients and not others. That will help us in the vaccine design process.”

Using new techniques, a team of researchers found two antibodies, called VRC01 and VRC02, that interact with a receptor called  CD4,  binding to the surface of  human cells, and when an antibody binds to the cell, the virus cannot enter the cell and can’t mutate anymore.

However, making antibodies in large enough quantities to boost the immune system remains a challenge. While researchers haven’t given up on that prospect, some think it’s more feasible to use the new findings as another avenue to an AIDS vaccine. The goal would be to teach the body how produce the antibodies so the person is protected when exposed to the virus.

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HEALTH CARE EQUALITY FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

ILLINOIS MASONIC AMONG THE LEADERS IN HEALTH CARE FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) this week announced that Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center is one of only two hospitals in Illinois—and one of only eight nationwide—to be named a top performer in the organization’sHealthcare Equality Index (HEI) for 2010. Illinois Masonic earned top marks for its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and staff.

“This is a great thing for our local community,” said David Blatt, MD, Illinois Masonic physician. “Masonic has been on the top of this for years, making it easier for all patients and family members to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Though is the hospital’s first official year as top performer, Blatt points out that Illinois Masonic has been recognized by HRC HEI in the past for proactive policies specifically addressing the LGBT community.

HRC focuses on key policies and practices that ensure culturally competent health care for LGBT patients and families. These policies include patient non-discrimination, visitation and cultural competency training for staff. Of the 178 hospitals and clinics that voluntarily provided information, only 11 nationally—and one other in Chicago—were named top performers for 2010.

“It’s important for everyone to realize that we are paying attention to the rights and needs of all people,” Blatt said. “As a physician, I appreciate that these top facilities are making a committed effort to be respectful of my patients and friends. I’m proud that we go the extra mile to serve the LGBT community in which the hospital resides.”

For more information on Illinois Masonic, visit www.advocatehealth.com/masonic.


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NEW FMLA RULING AFFECTS 100K CHILDREN WITH SAME-SEX PARENTS
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Yesterday June 22, 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor ruled that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will allow an employee to take unpaid leave to care for the children of the employee’s same-sex partner, even when the employee hasn’t legally adopted those children.

The Williams Institute has released a report estimating that as many as 100,000 children in 50,000 families will now have access to a second parent’s time to care for them as a result of the ruling.

Williams Institute research director M. V. Lee Badgett, who is also an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, authored the study.   “This ruling provides important support for legally vulnerable families at particularly stressful times for families,” Badgett notes.  “Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents will now be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave when their kids are born or when they get sick.” However, the ruling does not change the fact that an employee cannot now take unpaid leave under the FMLA to care for an ill same-sex partner.

The report notes that revising the federal law to allow employees to take unpaid leave to care for their same-sex partners would affect 215,000 families.  Approximately 430,000 individuals would gain the ability to provide greater levels of care for their same-sex partners.  The report uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the numbers of families affected.


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HIV, STDs and Viral Hepatitis is Rising Among Gay Men in the U.S.
Friday, June 18th, 2010

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, in partnership with the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), will issue a statement of urgency asserting a grave and profound concern about the stronghold that HIV/AIDS and STDs continue to have on gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities in the United States.

The Congressional briefing is scheduled for Thursday, June 24, 2010 from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room B340 in Washington DC.

Some of the speakers will include, representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Frank Polis (D-CO), and Gregorio Millett, Senior Policy Advisor for the White House Office. Kevin Fenton, Director of the National Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in DC. From Chicago Jesus Ramirez-Vales will attend and will represent the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois. Finally, Deputy Executive Director Mr. Ronald Johnson of the AIDS Action Council in DC and Chris Crain of Gay News Watch.

The main goal is to raise awareness about co-factors, which contribute to HIV/AIDS, STDs, viral and hepatitis. Promote access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care services, and support a comprehensive federal agenda to combat these diseases, and finally to encourage federal and community partners to expand and strengthen their responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities in the U.S.

For more information, visit www.NASTAD.org.

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A New Policy To End The Horror of Hospital Discrimination.
Thursday, June 10th, 2010

by Joe Solmonese President, HRC 

But until all hospitals adopt the new rules, the injustices could continue. This is big. Sweeping new changes will soon dramatically transform healthcare in the U.S. for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The Joint Commission – the largest organization that accredits hospitals nationwide – has announced that, in the future, all hospitals in America will need to have a non-discrimination policy for LGBT patients on their books. Once the new rules are in place, the horror stories we’ve all heard of loved ones being met with hostility at the worst of times, of already heart-wrenching decisions made even harder, of people being denied care, will be a thing of the past – in Illinois and every state in the nation.

But it will be years before every hospital is on board. To ensure these new protections are implemented in Illinois hospitals as soon as possible, we need your help. The Illinois hospital association will play a crucial role in communicating the new rules, and we need to ensure that new policies are put in place as soon as possible.

Tell the hospital association in Illinois: families shouldn’t be at risk of discrimination a single day longer. We need to implement these new rules immediately!


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The Latest on Link Between Melanoma and Tanning Beds
Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Dr. Jeannette Graf one of the most distinguished dermatologists in the country, wants to alert you with the latest findings showing a more definitive link between the use of tanning beds and increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

According to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, people tanning indoors “had a 74% greater risk of developing melanoma” than those who steer clear of tanning beds. The finding has prompted the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency to declare that “the devices are carcinogenic.” The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that in 2009 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) cited that the risk for melanoma increased by 75% when tanning bed used began before the age of 35.

In addition to melanoma, there are other skin cancers associated with accumulated sun damage from outdoor exposure, including basal cell, squamous cell and pre-cancerous actinic keratoses.

Dr. Graf is well known for her lifestyle and nutritional approach to skincare. She is the author of the best-selling book, Stop Aging, Start Living. For more information, please visit www.askdrgraf.com.


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Breakthrough HIV Strategy Kicked June 1st—Seen as New National Model
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Business and Corporate Community Join Mayor Initiative to Prevent Spread of HIV/AIDS Get Screened Oakland (GSO) kicked off a new HIV/AIDS prevention strategy today that will engage the business community to help further efforts to dramatically increase HIV awareness and condom usage in the city. The Oakland model, the first of its kind in the US, will serve as a national model by utilizing the expertise of the private and public sector to reach more people at a faster rate. The innovative approach combines the insights, knowledge, and assets from multinational companies, local businesses, the GSO team, nonprofits, city, state, federal government and even the United Nations into a single team effort.

The new model comes at a critical time, both for Oakland and for the US in general. New HIV incidence rates around the country are rising to alarming levels, particularly among key communities including African-Americans, Latinos, and gay men.  The Oakland strategy will micro-target at the neighborhood level.

The new GSO initiative builds on work the city has done with the private sector, including important testing initiatives, during Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums’ administration.

“We’ve made HIV/AIDS awareness a top priority in the city of Oakland,” said Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. “While a key component of our strategy is to create a campaign that urges every Oakland resident to know their HIV status, the focus of today’s announcement builds upon that foundation by engaging the business community in our partnership and providing prevention information and condoms to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

Major companies have become active members of the GSO team and are critical to the success of this initiative. These large companies bring expertise in areas like evaluating program effectiveness in reaching consumers, advertising and marketing, and will also help mobilize human resources.  The companies who are partnering in this important initiative include: Chevron Corporation, Walgreens, Levi Strauss Foundation, Young & Rubicam, and the Golden State Warriors.

A major focus of the program will be condom distribution, which is the best way to prevent HIV transmission. Budgets for condoms in Oakland have fallen well short of need.  Nationally, promotion of condom usage has fallen off in recent years—and is being reinvigorated at the national level. Small businesses in target neighborhoods will become part of a network of prevention and condom distribution—as will the Walgreens chain.  Staff of these local small businesses will be trained to discuss risks, prevention, and condom usage with customers. Small businesses  also will be provided with educational materials and condoms to distribute to their employees and customers.

“Community leaders and organizations have made huge sacrifices and have done hard work on HIV prevention.  Here in Oakland, Mayor Dellums, the Get Screened Oakland team, and the community have shown tremendous leadership, and increased HIV testing rates.” said John Newsome, a former Bay Area HIV/AIDS activist who currently serves as a vice president at the New York-based Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “Now, even more of us need to pitch in to help bolster those efforts.  The CDC’s re-emphasis of condoms also is a critical part of the equation—our progress depends on even more movement in that direction.”

Program coordination is managed by the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC)—a New York-based nonprofit that typically works in hard-hit countries other than the U.S.  GBC matches business capabilities and assets with nonprofits and governments around the world, and has developed a working relationship with the White House around the U.S.’s first comprehensive national AIDS strategy.

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SF’s New Treatment Guidelines for People Living with HIV
Friday, April 30th, 2010

Heads up… the San Francisco Health Department put out new guidelines for going on HIV meds: They recommend that everyone diagnosed with HIV should go on treatment right away, no matter what your T-cell count is.  Lot’s of friends have been asking… Do I have to go on HIV meds right now?
On Tuesday May 4, from 6pm-8pm the San Francisco Health Department will put on a forum at LGBT Center at Rainbow Room - 1800 Market Street at Octavia to discuss the benefits and challenges of the city’s new guidelines. Speakers will talk about the pros and cons of the new program and will raise the question “is there more to treatment than just pills? ” and when people  need to start taking HIV medication.
You will be able to meet people with HIV and find out why they made their decisions the way they did.
STOP AIDS Project’s Positive Force Presents a Community Forum: Early HIV Treatment: Community Input on New San Francisco Guidelines.
Few of the Speakers will include Dr. Rick of  Loftus, Matt Sharp from Project Inform, Justin Patrick Jones from STOP AIDS Project’s Positive Force, Brent Michael Gannetta from Community Member and Rickey Rickerson a  Community Member and many more.

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Dining Out For Life: City of Big Shoulders!
Monday, April 19th, 2010

Dine Out. Fight AIDS on Thursday, April 29th.

AIDSCare Progressive Services (APS), now a member of EdgeAlliance, will celebrate its 17th Annual Dining Out For Life in Chicago on Thursday, April 29, 2010. Partnered with 58 cities across the United States and Canada, Dining Out For Life is the single largest HIV/AIDS benefit in the country.

More than 80 Chicago restaurants will come together to celebrate good friends, good food, and a good cause. Each restaurant will pledge to donate a portion of their proceeds to APS, and a volunteer Ambassador will be assigned to each participating restaurant to encourage individual tax-deductible contributions from diners, and to help raise HIV/AIDS awareness throughout the city. As an additional fundraiser this year, Chicagoans may also participate in a Text-to-Donate campaign by texting EDGE, then their preferred donation amount, to 27138.

Inspired by Carl Sandburg’s poem ‘Chicago,’ this year’s event focuses on shoulders as symbols of support, denoting incredible power and strength. Built on the premise of interdependence and the need to lend our shoulders in support of one another, the photographs for this campaign, graciously taken by John Gress, proclaim Chicago as an incredibly diverse city. But more importantly, that we are all people, regardless of race, gender, creed, and age, and that our work has universal significance: “Under his wrist is the pulse. / And under his ribs the heart of the people / Laughing!” (Carl Sandburg, from the poem ‘Chicago’ in Chicago Poems).

AIDSCare Progressive Services, a member of EdgeAlliance, provides supportive and life progress services to families and individuals living with HIV/AIDS on EdgeAlliance’s North Lawndale Housing Campus on Chicago’s West Side.  The campus currently houses more than 124 children, women, and men who are otherwise homeless and living with HIV/AIDS.

For more information or to get involved, visit www.EdgeAlliance.org or www.DiningOutForLife.com.


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Dining Out for Life
Monday, April 19th, 2010  

Pink Pages is Sponsoring Dining Out for LifeThursday, March 18th, 2010

We are proud to announce our partnership with the 17th Annual Dining Out for Life on Thursday, April 29, 2010!

This year’s Dining Out for Life event will mark the culmination of our new citywide fundraising campaign, Dining Out for Life: City of Big Shoulders! This campaign, inspired by Carl Sandburg’s poem ‘Chicago’, will utilize the idea of shoulders as symbols of support. It will feature a range of photographs with groups of people in fun, supportive poses. The new campaign represents Chicago’s incredible diversity, and is sure to attract more volunteers and diners to the event than ever before!

As part of our commitment to the community PINK  is going to announce next week where we are going to host this year and why.

PINK will be giving away many Prizes, so stay tune as we promised you will  not be disappointed…


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Seeking Routine Resolutions
Monday, December 21st, 2009

A New Year can mean a New You. Yet resolutions to lose weight, work out or spend more time with family, while all noble and attainable goals, are kind of cliché. Why not go the gay road less traveled and make now the time to swear off substance? And, be it health wise or otherwise, here’s a list of some of the reasons why you should.

THE VICE: Alcohol
A full night of cocktailing, shots and a greasy burrito can tallly up to upwards of $200, not to mention the enlarged liver, increased likelihood of cancer and/or the hangover that compulsive drinking can toll. Plus, a DUI will cause a suspension of your driver’s license from three months to three years, in many cases, as well as resulting in a criminal record, huge fines and possibly jail time.

THE VICE: Marijuana
Although it is widely accepted as the least evil of illicit drugs, pot makes you stupid, paranoid, in some cases dull, and has been known for making adults enjoy Sponge Bob Square Pants. Even small amounts of posession are criminal offenses in which you will face fines, possible jail time and a criminal record.

THE VICE: Anonymous Public Sex
Cruising is a widely accepted part of the community, unless you’re a cop. Bathrooms, parks, and other secluded places are patrolled by officers with the sole purpose of arresting gay men engaging in consensual sex, and public indecency is a misdemeanor. For repeat offenders, it’s a felony.

THE VICE: Crystal Meth
Crystal Meth often contains a variety of toxic mixers, like battery acid and brake fluid, that ravages the body with rotting teeth, holes in the brain and impotence. Since meth users are known for calling in sick on Mondays, to nurse the crash from a weekend of partying, repetitive absences may lead to unemployment and users are just as likely to be targeted by law enforcement as dealers. Possible penalties include inpatient treatment, incarceration (minimum of two to five years), hefty fines, and a criminal record that will follow you for a long time.

THE VICE: Cigarettes
The warning labels aren’t joking—cigarettes cause cancer. Even the Marlboro man got cancer and he was a tough dude. They also cause wrinkles, bad breath and yellow teeth. At ~$8 a pack, not only is the cost of smoking lofty but, in regions where smoking in public spaces has been banned, light up in a public building, or within 15 feet of a building entrance, and you could face a $100 to $250 fine.

THE VICE: Cell Phones
While not a chemically-based compulsion, or proven to be physically taxing, not being engaged in the company you are in by interrupting face-to-face conversation to check a text is a total faux pas and completely rude! And to do it while driving is dangerous, proven by a 2006 study that found people who “cell” and drive are “just as impaired as drunks” Tickets for driving without a hands-free device can range around $50. So, turn off the phone. It’s the courteous and safe thing to do. Plus, overage charges for excessive text-ing and talking aren’t cheap.

For resources on how to break some of these habits, visit thetruth.com,, stopmethaddiction.com,, lungusa.org and/or sca-recovery.org.


 
 
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by David Cohen

Getting in shape and loosing weight are two of the most common resolutions to which most of us commit at the beginning of every year. The endeavor of which typically lends itself to our eating less and pledging to commit to a regular work-out schedule. But when the effort doesn’t immediately achieve quick physical fitness, these new year resolutions are just as quickly written off as irresolvable—resulting in a return to the old sedentary/bad diet dynamic.

However, having lost 120 pounds since making my weight-loss new year resolutions in 2009—and successfully keeping the weight off—I can attest that personal pledge, patience and perseverance aids in getting the results you want while looking and feeling your best in 2012.

Here are few some tips/suggestions that worked for me:

Don’t beat yourself up. Getting in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a marathon not a sprint; I promise you there will be more than a few potholes along the way. Yet, don’t let the hardships break your spirit. Prevail. Persist. Don’t ever give up!

Be active everyday. Try not to think of it as arduous exercise: Perhaps consider your gym membership as a form a social interaction to shake off the wintertime blues. Staying active for at least 30 consecutive minutes a day—whether it’s swimming, walking around the track or weight lifting—will provide a feeling of better overall health while also helping to trim your waistline. Also, it’s important not to let yourself get bored. Keep your workouts fresh and try to change your routine from week to week.

Turn off the TV. I have decided to cancel my cable/network television subscription, and instead used the time that I would havespent watching TV to be more active. That was a huge part of my weight loss. It also gave me a clearer state of mind and made the process easier and more enjoyable for me. Television inadvertently lends leads to a sedentary lifestyle and absent-minded snacking. So get off the couch, or at least limit your TV time.

Drink more water.  Drinking water is a key for good life and looking young.  Most people eat more when they’re thirsty but not when they’re hungry. If you eat slowly and drink lots of water, you’ll feel satisfied a lot sooner with lesser portions. As part of my diet, I opted to drink at least three litters of water every day. I gave up on soda and juices, as both contain lots of sugar that turns into fat. A good rule for proper water intake is to divide your weight in half and then drink that many ounces of water a day. For example, those who weigh 180 pounds would need to drink nine ounces of water every day.

Eat more green veggies.  Your mother was right.  Eat at least three servings of greens such as broccoli, kale, green beans or other dark green veggies. For your information: one serving equals cup.

Cut down on midnight snacking and carbs.  Food consumed fewer than three hours before bed time has a habit of sticking around (usually around the mid-section).  To keep the pounds off, avoid snacking after dinner. Make lunch your main meal with meat, veggies and carbs. For dinner, eat fruits, yogurt, veggies or hard boiled eggs. Keep it light and drink more water to fill you up.

Follow these tips and you might start seeing the results you want to see. To reach New Year resolution goals, just keep it up and never give up!





 
 
Health Alternatives Receive Free Medication Help

As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn, loss of jobs, foreclosures, high cost of gas, and the rising cost of prescription drug cost, Charles Myrick, President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of The Rx Community Service Project. In an effort to assist the uninsured, under-insured, and seniors, this project is donating free discount prescription cards to thousands of hospitals, schools, churches and more. Without eligibility requirements, forms to be filled out, and no expiration date, the prescription cards are free to anyone in need.

American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX), is an Atlanta based company formed in 2004. Over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need since 2004. The ACRX cards offer discounts on brand name drugs of up to 40% off, and up to 60% off on generic drugs. The ACRX cards are pre-activated, and they are good at Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd’s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix and more.

The ACRX card is available for download at http://www.acrxcards.org. Send your mailing request to: ACRX, P.O.Box 161336, Atlanta, GA 30321, fax it to 404-305-9539, or call their office at 404-767-1072. Please include name, organization, mailing address,  amount of cards requested, telephone number and you have a choice for Spanish or English.

While many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.

Source: ACRX Press Release.
 
 
Posted on April 16, 2010

Source:  From Human Rights Campaign.

Today, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum taking important steps to protect the visitation and healthcare decision-making rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. This important action was inspired by last year’s New York Times profile of the tragic experience of partners Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn. Despite having an advanced healthcare directive, Janice, and the couple’s children, were kept from Lisa’s bedside as she lay dying. Lambda Legal represented Janice in a lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and worked with them to revise their policies in the wake of the tragedy. As part of its ongoing efforts to promote executive actions which would improve the lives of LGBT Americans, the Human Rights Campaign worked with White House and Department of Health and Human Services staff in support of today’s memorandum.

“Discrimination touches every facet of the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including at times of crisis and illness, when we need our loved ones with us more than ever,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “No one should experience what befell the Pond-Langbehn family, and the President’s action today will help ensure that the indignities Janice and her children faced do not happen to another family.”

According to today’s announcement, the memorandum directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promulgate a regulation requiring all hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding – nearly every hospital in America – to allow patients to designate who may visit them and prohibiting discrimination in visitation based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, the memorandum calls on the Secretary to issue new guidance and provide technical assistance to hospitals to help them comply with existing federal regulations that require them to respect individuals’ advanced healthcare directives and other documents establishing who should make healthcare decisions for them when they are unable to do so. Finally, the memorandum directs HHS to conduct a larger study of the barriers LGBT people and their families face in accessing healthcare.

In addition to efforts to address these and other issues facing LGBT people through executive and legislative action, the HRC Foundation has worked for several years to encourage hospitals and other healthcare providers to adopt pro-LGBT policies and practices. Since 2007, the Foundation, in a joint effort with the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, has published the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), a rating of healthcare facilities based on five main policy criteria: patient non-discrimination, visitation, decision making, cultural competency training and employment policies and benefits. In 2009, ten facilities reported LGBT-inclusive policies and practices for every one of the 10 HEI rated criteria. The 2010 HEI will be released in the coming weeks.
 
 
Endurance training program now open for registration
Posted on January 8, 2010
by David Cohen

With New Year’s fitness resolutions in the air, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) today officially launched TEAM TO END AIDS, a new endurance training program that includes marathon, half marathon and triathlon coaching. Beginners and experienced athletes can register today at: T2EA.com

In a few months, TEAM TO END AIDS (T2 for short) can train you to complete a marathon, half marathon or triathlon, even if you’ve never trained before. T2 replaces the Chicago arm of the National AIDS Marathon Training Program, which had trained participants to complete a marathon or half marathon and raise money in support of AFC.

Since 2003, AFC has netted more than $4 million through the Chicago AIDS marathon training program. The funds support housing, case management, prevention and policy programs that advance the agency’s mission to end new HIV infections and improve the lives of people with HIV/AIDS.

Funds raised through T2 will continue to support the life-saving work of AFC, which will mark its 25th year in 2010.

“AFC is proud to have served as a beneficiary of the National AIDS Marathon Training Program for the past seven years and enormously grateful to all the runners and individual supporters who helped make the program a huge success over the years,” said AFC president/CEO Mark Ishaug. “We look forward to having former participants as well as first-timers take part in T2 program. Many have already expressed interest in the triathlon training, something we hadn’t offered before.”

Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran of endurance challenges, T2 will prepare you to go the distance and raise money to help fight AIDS. Simply choose your challenge – marathon, half marathon, or triathlon – and T2 staff will be with you each step of the way providing professional fundraising, training and nutritional support.

T2 offers a five-month marathon and three-month half marathon training program. In addition, T2 has partnered with TriMonster and Fitness Formula Clubs to provide a complete four-month triathlon training program, including full access membership to a Fitness Formula Club (choose from five participating locations).

The T2 program registration fee is $95 and each participant will be asked to meet a fundraising goal. Training for all three events begins May 8, 2010. All levels of experience are welcome.

“Like most people who have completed this program, I can personally say that it has been life-changing,” said Katie Wargula, a T2 marathoner. “Each participant is able to do something they never thought possible: help save lives and have fun in the process. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

Get fit. Have fun. Make a difference. Register today at T2EA.com or call 312-725-T2EA (8232). Find us on Facebook at: facebook.com/TEAMTOENDAIDS, on Twitter at twitter.com/t2ea or connect with us via your mobile phone by texting “T2EA” to 30364.