ACT UP Philly has a long history of standing up to politicians who target people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, sick people, people currently and formerly incarcerated, people without housing, and broke people.

We believe that Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell will be dangerous for people living with HIV/AIDS. They have threatened to repeal Obamacare; slash federal spending which might jeopardize programs like Ryan White, Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS, AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, and prevention and research; cut Medicaid; and privatize Medicare.

We are taking 2 immediate actions and planning for more:

  • On World AIDS Day, December 1st, at 7:30am, we will take a free bus to Washington DC to protest Paul Ryan's nightmare budget. Call 215 360 3086 to find out the location and reserve your spot.
  • On December 5th, at 6pm, we will hold a town hall meeting at St. Luke's Church, 330 S. 13th St. The topic will be the current state of HIV in Philadelphia and what we must do to survive the next 4 years.
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AuthorMax Ray-Riek

ACT UP has been fighting for housing for people with HIV for a long time, and making steady progress. Whether it's fighting and winning new "housing first" slots for HIV+ individuals who have mental illness or substance use, or expanding eligibility for HOPWA housing, ACT UP has been on the march.

We're taking the campaign statewide, but our research and reporting on the importance of housing is still super relevant. You can download and read:

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AuthorMax Ray-Riek

Dr. Rachel Levine, Physician General of Pennsylvania, will be joined by Philadelphians who advocated for the Wolf administration to make ending HIV/AIDS a priority. The advocates will travel from groups including Prevention Point Philadelphia, Action AIDS, and ACT UP Philadelphia.

Dr. Levine will address a group of HIV/AIDS advocates and service providers on World AIDS Day. She will outline the Health Department's policy goals around HIV.

Where: Capitol Media Center, East Wing of the Capitol Building, Harrisburg

When: 3:30 - 4:00 PM, December 1st, World AIDS Day, 2015

Further background: On the campaign trail, Governor Wolf’s staff met with a statewide coalition of AIDS activists and service providers who believe that an end to AIDS is attainable in our lifetime. The advocates encouraged Governor Wolf to make ending HIV a priority and come up with a plan to make an end to HIV a reality. Dr. Levine's address about policy goals will be the administration's first public statements about their vision for fighting HIV/AIDS in the state. 

Since taking office, the Governor has already taken action on several components of the platform the advocates proposed, including restoring cuts to SNAP benefits and ending Governor Corbett’s means-testing programs, increasing funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and expanding it to all Pennsylvania counties, and expanding access to overdose prevention medication. The administration has not yet taken other steps urged by the activists, such as expanding Pittsburgh and Philadelphia’s successful syringe exchange programs to all areas of the state, restoring Governor Corbett’s cuts to HIV prevention and cash assistance, making sure that prisoners have access to condoms in state jails and prisons, and advising physicians to make HIV testing and risk screening a routine part of all medical care. The coalition will continue to meet with Health Department leaders through December to discuss how Pennsylvania can take advantage of research indicating that an end to AIDS is possible in our lifetime.

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AuthorMax Ray-Riek

As a Gubernatorial Candidate, Tom Wolf made commitments to ending AIDS in PA by 2020, and agreed to make it a public announcement, signing on to specific steps that would facilitate that. Now that he is Governor, his office will not return calls, faxes, and emails to people with HIV/AIDS. 

How do we begin to dream of Ending AIDS and acting to make that dream possible?

There are tangible, logical and fiscally efficient ways -- Governor Wolf can do the following:

  • People with HIV that are on consistent HIV medication are not infectious. The new prevention one pill a day stops people from being infected, especially people at high risk. Make PreP accessible to all communities.
  • Housing people with AIDS gives them a roof and water to store and take meds, and not exchange sex to give them a respite from harsh weather or an opportunity to bathe.  House people with HIV!
  • Clean syringes have already decreased the percentage of HIV positive people who use injection drugs- from ~50% when the epidemic began, to less then ~10% in Philadelphia where people have access to clean needles. Make clean syringes accessible statewide!

These are just a few ways Governor Wolf can make an impact. ACT UP has been uncharacteristically patient on this issue, but people with AIDS are dying in the street. Infections rates are rising in Latino and Black MSM communities, especially the Trans community. We are tired of waiting while people are infected and the homeless die. HIV is now preventable and treatable. Our elected officials don't have the political will to make it happen. Lets assist them in adjusting their priorities.

Please join us at 8 AM Busses leave from Broad and Walnut, Thursday, October 29th! Food and Tokens Provided.

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AuthorMax Ray-Riek

THIS YEAR Tom Wolf responded to a questionnaire circulated by dozens of HIV/AIDS care and policy groups from across the Commonwealth. Governor Corbett did not respond.

Wolf’s responses show that he’s well on his way to supporting the smart policies that will end the epidemic. And there’s good company for taking the next step and pledging to end AIDS by 2020: New York Governor Cuomo has pledged to end AIDS by 2020; NIH Institute Director Dr. Anthony Fauci says we can end the epidemic within a decade worldwide; Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Obama call for an AIDS-Free Generation, and Secretary John Kerry pledged recently to support achieving undetectable viral load for 90% of the people with HIV in the world--by 2020. If New York — with an even bigger epidemic than PA — can end AIDS by 2020, we urge Candidate Wolf to make the same pledge, and demonstrate that he takes the lives and health of GLBT voters and people with HIV seriously. Wolf’s pledge will show he does not take LGBT voters or 30,000 people with HIV across the Commonwealth for granted.

Governor Corbett, meanwhile, has adopted numerous policies that hurt people with HIV and LGBT voters statewide, including cuts to General Assistance, cuts to needed HIV prevention programs, and comparing gay marriage to incest. Let the door hit you on your way out, and please don’t stay in touch. 

You can read Tom Wolf's full questionnaire here. Below is our summary of his responses.

If you are elected, will you ensure that HIV positive Pennsylvanians have access to nutrition and housing through:

Restoring General Assistance?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Restoring Governor Corbett’s cuts to food assistance and providing additional SNAP benefits to alleviate federal cuts?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Increasing the state's commitment to the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund. How will you do this?

W: Maybe: “I will investigate options to improve access to affordable housing and explore the possibility of increasing the funding and scope of coverage for the Housing Trust Fund”

C: No Response

Allowing supportive housing services such as drug and alcohol treatment, housing counseling, and social work to be paid for through Medicaid reimbursement?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Creating housing first policies that provide housing for individuals regardless of mental health status or drug or alcohol addiction?

W: Maybe: “I will work with local governments and other key stakeholders to explore ways to make housing affordable and accessible to all residents.”

C: No Response

Will you ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to HIV prevention, through:

Expanding Medicaid without punitive measures for people who miss premiums (e.g. people should not lose coverage for 3 months if they miss a single payment)?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Implementing the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of routine opt-out HIV screening at every medical visit, in a way that respects the human right to privacy?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Restoring Corbett’s cuts to HIV prevention that amounted to 40% cuts in Philadelphia over three years?

W: Restoring Corbett’s cuts to HIV prevention that amounted to 40% cuts in Philadelphia over three years?    Maybe: “I will work hard to ensure that HIV prevention and treatment programs are appropriately funded so that we can stop the spread of this disease and finally achieve an AIDS-free generation.”

C: No Response

Ensuring that HIV-outreach efforts fight stigma in those communities most affected, including the LGBTQ community, women, people of color, and injection drug users?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Will you ensure that treatment and prevention materials are available in Spanish and French?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Ensuring that condoms are available to people in state prisons and jails?

W: Maybe: “I will instruct my Secretary of the Department of Corrections to investigate these issues, including the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and recommend commonsense policy solutions.”

C: No Response

Will you ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to HIV treatment at the time of diagnosis, through:

Continuing to support Pennsylvania’s model Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Ensuring continued support for Medical Case Management service, which removes barriers to care for people living with HIV/AIDS?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Will you support harm reduction through:

Ensuring that first responders carry naloxone (medicine that reverses the effects of overdose) and are trained in its use?

W: Yes

C: No Response

Exploring legal options to ensure that state public health funds can support syringe exchanges?

W: Yes

C: No Response

 

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AuthorKaytee Riek

7 of us went to Tom Wolf's fundraiser in Mt. Airy tonight. Next week, ACT UP members are meeting with his staff to discuss a plan for an AIDS-free generation, modeled on the plan released by NY Governor Cuomo a few weeks ago. Our goal for being at the fundraiser was to make sure Wolf saw us and got his staff is ready to meet with us next week and talk seriously about developing a plan for an AIDS-free generation.

5 people waited outside with signs in the hopes that Wolf would see us as he drove in, and 2 went inside to try and have a proper conversation with him. The outside crew stood at the end of the driveway -- and Wolf stopped to talk to them on his way in. He said "Did I do something wrong?" to which we replied, "no, but you have a real chance to do something right!"

ACT UP members wait for Tom Wolf to arrive at his fundraiser.

ACT UP members wait for Tom Wolf to arrive at his fundraiser.

When he arrived inside the fundraiser, we gave him a copy of the press release from Gov Cuomo about their plan (which Charlie ever so smartly thought to bring!) and Wolf said "oh yea, I saw you guys outside too. Tell me more..." and then promised to review the plan and consider it seriously.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support us!



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AuthorKaytee Riek

(For the record, we asked for a response from Gov. Corbett. Big shocker -- no response!)

If you are elected, will you ensure that HIV positive Pennsylvanians have access to nutrition and housing through:

Restoring General Assistance?

I believe Pennsylvania's playing field isn't fair for the majority of its people. Under Governor Corbett, corporations and the wealthy get all the breaks, while hardworking families all across the Commonwealth struggle to get by. We must work to give all Pennsylvanians equal opportunity for jobs, economic security, and happiness regardless of where they live, the connections of their lobbyist, or who they love.

I know Governor Corbett’s decision to eliminate General Assistance unfairly impacted residents living with HIV and AIDS. As governor, I will work to restore General Assistance for our most vulnerable residents. 

Restoring Governor Corbett’s cuts to food assistance and providing additional SNAP benefits to alleviate federal cuts? 

Governor Corbett’s asset test for SNAP benefits is just another example of how he has embraced policies intended to hurt our most vulnerable residents. For the overwhelming majority of those who lost their SNAP benefits, it was not because their assets exceed Governor Corbett’s extremely low bar, it was because the paperwork required was too difficult and confusing. As governor, I will repeal the SNAP asset test and I will work to ensure that the federal SNAP cuts do not affect Pennsylvania families. 

Increasing the state's commitment to the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund. How will you do this?

Providing affordable housing options to low income Pennsylvanians is essential. As governor, I will investigate options to improve access to affordable housing and explore the possibility of increasing the funding and scope of coverage for the Housing Trust Fund.

Allowing supportive housing services such as drug and alcohol treatment, housing counseling, and social work to be paid for through Medicaid reimbursement?

As governor, I will look for innovative ways to use Medicaid reimbursements so that low-income residents, including the chronically homeless, have access to the health and social supports to rebuild their lives and have a productive, independent, and healthy future. 

Applying for a Medicaid waiver to allow state Medicaid funds to pay for housing construction and rental assistance for people with HIV/AIDS, and committing $5 million dollars of state money for HIV- specific housing? 

I know it is essential we think about health care as more than just medical care. To have a healthy population, we need to meet more than just medical needs. Our residents need safe, permanent housing options, high quality schools, and accessible social services. As governor, I will examine different waiver options that will allow us to use Medicaid dollars to address those needs that impact health outcomes.

Allowing local governments that invest in housing programs to share in the state’s resulting savings in Medicaid and prison costs?

A significant amount of the State’s budget is distributed to local governments for the purpose of providing key services to our residents. As governor, I will work to direct State funds to high quality programs that have proven to have long-term positive benefits for those who participate. Directing our tax dollars to such programs will result in cost savings that can be reinvested in additional high quality programs for residents.

Creating housing first policies that provide housing for individuals regardless of mental health status or drug or alcohol addiction?

I know that housing first policies positively impact chronically homeless residents. As governor, I will work with local governments and other key stakeholders to explore ways to make housing affordable and accessible to all residents. 

Increasing the state's contribution to HOPWA whenever federal funding is cut or flatlined?

As stated above, I will work to ensure that all residents have access to affordable housing. I know that for individuals living with HIV and AIDS, safe, long-term housing is directly tied to positive health outcomes.

Will you ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to HIV prevention, through:

Expanding Medicaid without punitive measures for people who miss premiums (e.g. people should not lose coverage for 3 months if they miss a single payment)?

Yes, I believe it is essential that we expand Medicaid. Governor Corbett’s Healthy PA is just another move by his administration to direct taxpayers’ dollars to private companies at the expense of hardworking Pennsylvanians. As governor, I will expand access to Medicaid, which will increase health care coverage to nearly half-a-million Pennsylvanians, save the Commonwealth millions of dollars, and pump billions into the state’s economy.

Implementing the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of routine opt-out HIV screening at every medical visit, in a way that respects the human right to privacy? 

Yes, I will support efforts to incorporate opt-out HIV screening into regular medical appointments. 

Restoring Corbett’s cuts to HIV prevention that amounted to 40% cuts in Philadelphia over three years?

As governor, I will work hard to ensure that HIV prevention and treatment programs are appropriately funded so that we can stop the spread of this disease and finally achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Ensuring that HIV-outreach efforts fight stigma in those communities most affected, including the LGBTQ community, women, people of color, and injection drug users?

I know breaking down the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS– especially for those living in communities most affected – will help ensure that more individuals get tested and those infected are connected with medical and social services. As governor, I will support the continued efforts of AIDS Service organizations, public health organizations, and social services to provide HIV-outreach that fights the stigma related to the infection.

Will you ensure that treatment and prevention materials are available in Spanish and French?

I will support efforts to print treatment and prevention materials in languages other than English, like Spanish and French.

Ensuring that condoms are available to people in state prisons and jails?

I recognize that our correctional facilities deal with complex public health issues. As governor, I will instruct my Secretary of the Department of Corrections to investigate these issues, including the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and recommend commonsense policy solutions. 

Will you ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to HIV treatment at the time of diagnosis, through:

Continuing to support Pennsylvania’s model Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program, regularly updating the SPBP formulary to include cutting-edge HIV treatments as soon as they’re approved, for the lowest price possible?

Yes

Ensuring that ACA Insurers in Pennsylvania accept Ryan White funds?

Yes

Maintaining Ryan White funding in addition to expanding Medicaid?

Yes, I know Ryan White funding allows individuals living with HIV and AIDS to access important services that might not be covered by their insurer.

Ensuring continued support for Medical Case Management service, which removes barriers to care for people living with HIV/AIDS? 

Yes, Medical Case Management services are an important element in ensuring eligible individuals have a comprehensive medical plan that addresses both medical and social needs and connects them with important community supports so that they can maintain their health and avoid more costly medical intervention and hospitalization.

Will you support harm reduction through:

Making naloxone (Narcan) available without a prescription, and ensuring that first responders carry naloxone and are trained in its use?

Doctors, treatment specialists, public health experts, and law enforcement officials currently cite prescription drug overdoses as an epidemic. I know that making Narcan more accessible will save lives. As governor, I will support efforts to equip first responders with Narcan and train them in how to use it.

Instructing the Department of Public Health to issue a statement that Pennsylvania’s drug paraphernalia laws do not criminalize the distribution of clean syringes for the purpose of preventing the spread of illness, and that state law enforcement and prosecutors will abide by this interpretation?

As governor, I will work with key stakeholders and representatives from the Office of General Counsel to explore how we can support the efforts of those who are working to get dirty needles off of our streets and curb the spread of diseases connected to intravenous drug use.

Exploring legal options to ensure that state public health funds can support syringe exchanges?

I support funding for these programs but I believe that they need to be part of a larger, comprehensive effort to address drug use in our communities. 

Will you support a national fee on Wall Street financial transactions, specifically one that:
Places a small tax on all types of financial transactions by large institutions and earmarks revenues specifically for fighting the HIV/AIDS crisis?

I believe when we earmark revenues for a specific program, we end up playing games with those funds so that we can pay for other priorities. I know we need to fund HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment programs. As governor, I will work to ensure that Pennsylvania HIV and AIDS programs have the funding needed to provide high quality services. 

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AuthorKaytee Riek

Pretty fancy, huh? It'll get even better over time. We're extremely grateful to Critpath for providing free hosting to use for the past 15 years, but Critpath can no longer provide the service so we're venturing out on our own.

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AuthorKaytee Riek