The efforts of the Treat Lipodystrophy Coalition have paid off. Starting in November, Massachusetts residents who are experiencing Lipodystrophy cannot be denied medical coverage for treating it.
From the Coalition:
On August 10, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Relative to HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome Treatment, and the law will go into effect November 9. This first-of-its-kind legislation, sponsored by Senator Mark Montigny and Representative Sarah Peake, requires public and private insurers to cover treatment of a debilitating side effect of early HIV medications. This law means that some of the longest-term survivors of the HIV epidemic will finally have access to critical health care they need and deserve.
What is lipodystrophy?
Lipodystrophy is a disfiguring side effect of some early HIV treatments, characterized by painful, abnormal changes in body shape, such as fat growths on the back of the neck that press on the spine, and facial wasting that is seen as a public disclosure of HIV status. Lipodystrophy causes profound and unnecessary suffering: spinal malformation and posture problems, headaches, restricted mobility, depression and anxiety, suicidality, and stigma.
How was this law passed?
GLAD (The Gay Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) convened the Treat Lipodystrophy Coalition (TLC) in 2013, after representing several people with lipodystrophy who were experiencing profound suffering but could only get medical treatment if they lawyered up and threatened to sue their insurer. Together with then State Representative Carl Sciortino, the original bill sponsor, we realized that a more systemic solution was needed and the idea for this legislation was born. The TLC brought together people living with HIV, advocacy and service organizations, and dedicated physicians and medical professionals. Thanks to the leadership of legislative sponsors Representative Sarah Peake and Senator Mark Montigny, the commitment and work of TLC partner organizations, the efforts of our community’s long-time State House advocate Arline Isaacson, and most importantly the courage and persistence of people living with HIV who have shared their stories, the TLC successfully passed this first-of-its-kind legislation that will make a powerful difference in people’s lives.
The annual Student Activism Summit returns September 24th to the BU School of Medicine. Hosted by Boston Student Health Activist Community (BSHAC), students and young professionals from across Boston will gather to discuss important social justice issues that impact the health of our communities and learn ways they can integrate that work into professional and civic life.
Saturday at 11:30 AM – 5:30 PM Boston University School of Medicine 72 E Concord St, Boston, Massachusetts 02118
It is FREE and OPEN to the public. Please RSVP at:
Shameful: Massachusetts legislators are making the wrong choices. They want to feed the Pentagon Pig, not end homelessness and AIDS in Massachusetts.
Two months ago the Massachusetts legislature unanimously voted to give $177 million to upgrade military bases in Massachusetts. Yet those supposedly advocating for people with HIV are asking for so little (a $4 million line-item increase in funding) as Beacon Hill again fails to dole out enough to end the epidemic. They all seem to think that there is not enough to fund the AIDS Budget beyond the amount it was funded FOUR YEARS AGO! But there is money to be had to do what needs to be done, if you demand the state change its priorities.
The $177 million to upgrade 6 obsolete military bases in Massachusetts is part of a state funded effort to persuade the Pentagon to keep them open. That effort includes a “task force” of political hacks, such as former U.S. Senator William “Mo” Cowan, and private sector insiders from defense-industry lobbying firms. All are pushing to feed the Pentagon Pig.
Yet here we are on another AIDS Lobby Day, begging again for just a bit of additional funding: It amounts to a few crumbs. By comparison the U.S. Military Budget is already $756 BILLION! Lockheed, Grumman and the other military contractors feeding at the public trough do not need any more of our money!
In Massachusetts, however, HIV/AIDS and homelessness are intertwined. Each feeds the other. Thousands and thousands of families and individuals are forced to live in shelters and motels – among the states homeless these are some of the lucky ones. But where is the money that will end homelessness and end AIDS here in Massachusetts?
Meanwhile, in New York State, Pentagon Pork is NOT so much a priority. Ending AIDS by 2020 is on the front burner of the state legislative agenda. Not so here in Massachusetts! Massachusetts won’t spend what is needed to end this costly epidemic. They only budget enough to keep keep it rolling on and on. Well Beacon Hill, where is the money for people with HIV? In fact, Beacon Hill, Project Able, AIDS Action, DPH…where is your task force, your plan to end AIDS?
From our friends at Hispanic Black Gay Coalition Boston:
This Friday is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is an HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative for Black people in the United States and across the Diaspora. There are four specific focal points: Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Involved, and Get Treated!
Support these focal points this Friday at the Union Methodist Church in the South End by getting free sexual health counseling, a confidential rapid HIV test, or get involved by volunteering/spreading the word about NBHAAD. A $10 gift cards available to those who get tested.
PLEDGE to support NBHAAD by doing one of the following:
1. Schedule a sexual health counseling session and/or get a confidential rapid HIV-test. Drop-In anytime on Friday or call 617-487-4242 to set an appointment.
2. Volunteer at Friday’s testing event (anytime between 10-5 pm) or volunteer next Saturday, Feb. 15th, as we host another testing event at the Mattapan Library. We need support setting up and passing out information in the community in Mattapan.
3. Help raise awareness by inviting your friends to take the pledge or share information on Friday’s event through social media.