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National Summit On HIV And Viral Hepatitis Convenes November 26-28 In Washington With Focus On Accelerating HIV/Hepatitis C Testing And Reducing Disparities In Care

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a time when the prevalence of HIV among some Americans rivals parts of sub-Saharan Africa and recorded deaths from chronic hepatitis C infection are steadily increasing, the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research will convene its 2012 National Summit on HIV and Viral Hepatitis Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care to intensify the nation's prevention, detection and treatment efforts.

Taking place after new government guidelines call for expanded testing of HIV and the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and accelerated use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in everyone diagnosed with HIV, the 2012 National Summit on HIV and Viral Hepatitis Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care ( November 26-28, 2012 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington) will bring together an estimated 300 scientists, clinicians, public health leaders and advocates to draw the roadmap for identifying and linking to care the nearly one in five Americans with undiagnosed HIV – an estimated 258,000 people  – and the more than 3 million Americans with undiagnosed HCV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the more than one million Americans now living with HIV, 35 percent to 45 percent develop AIDS within a year after diagnosis, indicating they were likely infected for many years without knowing it. Moreover, CDC estimates that expanded testing could identify 800,000 Americans with undiagnosed HCV and prevent more than 120,000 deaths.

"The 2012 National Summit is designed to create the pathway for accelerated adoption of HIV and HCV testing and for increasing patients' access to care – two strategies that will dramatically reduce infection and better support people living with these diseases," said Veronica Miller, Ph.D., Director of the Forum. "Our goal is to take up the current challenges presented by the HIV and HCV epidemics to move the science of prevention, care and treatment forward."

The summit will also highlight the significant changes now taking place under the Affordable Care Act to expand HIV and HCV care to uninsured Americans and provide a status update on the Obama Administration's National HIV/AIDS Strategy and new Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, just released in May 2012. As such, this scientific assembly is one of the largest meetings to address the emerging issues in the prevention, treatment and linkage to care of people with HIV/AIDS and HCV.  

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Gives National Address on HIV and HCV on November 26 at 6:15 PM As final plans for implementing the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) take shape, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will give a national address on the prospects for ACA to become a true "game changer" in expanding prevention, treatment and services for people with HIV and HCV.  Now that ACA has expanded preventive services, including HIV screenings, to an estimated 54 million Americans, the HHS Secretary will look ahead to 2014 when the remaining provisions go into effect and make it possible for people with HIV and HCV to get stable healthcare coverage and access to ongoing prevention services, chronic disease management, laboratory services and prescription drug coverage.

Rep. Henry Waxman to Be Honored; Will Discuss Policy Priorities on November 27 at 11:15 AM One of the summit highlights will be to recognize the efforts of Representative Henry A. Waxman D- CA) in charting the nation's policy on HIV/AIDS, starting when he convened the first Congressional hearings on AIDS in 1982.  In honor of Congressman Waxman's role in authoring the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act and sponsoring numerous bills to fund HIV/AIDS research and education, National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci will present the 2012 C. Everett Koop HIV/AIDS Public Health Leadership Award to Rep. Waxman at a special awards ceremony during the lunch plenary on November 27.  Congressman Waxman will then address the HIV/AIDS community on the immediate legislative priorities for improving HIV outcomes. 

Rhodessa Jones, Cultural Odyssey Troupe to Perform on November 27 at 8 PM Another summit highlight will be a performance by artist, singer and writer Rhodessa Jones and The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women addressing trauma, abuse, and HIV infection in women.  Developed in conjunction with the Women's HIV Program (WHP) at University of California, San Francisco, this very innovative and effective intervention for HIV-positive women entails a year-long workshop where women write out their personal stories and make known their HIV status in a public theatrical performance called Dancing with the Clown of Love.

Top Government Officials; HIV/HCV Experts to Speak at the SummitWidely considered the premier venue for researchers, providers, advocates and policy makers to discuss the current state of affairs and steps needed to eliminate the HIV and HCV epidemics in the U.S., the 2012 National Summit will feature 165 scientific abstracts that chart the wealth of ongoing efforts to support routine testing and linkage to care.

In addition, the Summit will feature plenary sessions where some of the top government and scientific leaders will discuss the burden of HIV/AIDS and HCV in the U.S., the impact of the Affordable Care Act in increasing access to care for those infected with HIV and HCV and next steps in implementing the Obama Administration's National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.  Highlights include:

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