December 2020: Issue 12
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Title X Turns 50!
This year we celebrate the Title X Family Programs 50th Anniversary! In 1970, Title X was established within the Department of Health and Human Services and is the only federally funded program dedicated solely to providing family planning and related preventive healthcare, reaching some 190 million low income or uninsured individuals.

Over the past four years, the Title X network experienced damage by the Title X Gag Rule, which left 1.5 million people nationwide without access to Title X funded services or providers, many of whom had to leave the network. Clinics grappled with harmful regulations that prohibited them from providing clients with all their options for reproductive health care or referrals. Other legal battles, such as Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, which allows employers to exclude contraception care for their employees based on religious or moral beliefs, placed stress on the Title X program which had already been reduced financially and who had lost providers who could offer contraception to these uninsured individuals.

There is hope in the new year however! With the new presidency to begin on January 20, NFPRHA is requesting that the Biden administration take immediate regulatory action to restore the Title X network and repair the damage done by the Title X rule (Title X Gag Rule). Check out this article, Reviving Sexual and Reproductive health and Rights in the The Biden-Harris Era, by the Guttmacher Institute or this memo NFPRHA developed outlining steps the Biden administration should take on Day 1 and within the first 30 days.

Worlds AIDS Day was December 1, but it is an issue to focus on year round! "It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness."

HIV/AIDS continues to be a serious health issue for parts of the world. Worldwide, there were about 1.7 million new cases of HIV in 2018. At the end of 2018, there were 1,040,352 adults and adolescents diagnosed with HIV in the US and dependent areas. COVID has disrupted HIV service delivery throughout the US and other countries, leading providers to worry about a backsliding in current cases and seeing a spike in new HIV infections. Persons are not getting tested, do not know their medications aren’t working or aren’t aware of or how to get a drug to prevent HIV in the first place. 
But the war on HIV continues to advance despite COVID disruptions! HIV medications continue to make leaps forward, "antiviral medications allow people who have HIV and who take medication daily as prescribed, maintain an undetectable viral load, so that they can live long, healthy lives and have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner."

Medications like PrEp, which helps prevent persons who are at a high risk of getting HIV from contracting HIV, and PEP which can help prevent HIV after a possible exposure, are available and now there has been studies done on long lasting injectable drugs which have shown to be highly effective in preventing HIV among women.

HIV medication will soon be available in strawberry-flavored, dissolvable tablet for kids! There was an estimated 1.7 million children, aged 0-14, with HIV at the end of 2018, and 160,000 newly infected children. Children often have difficulty swallowing HIV medications, making this new form of medication so much better for them!
Sex and Disabilities
Dec 3 was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It’s important for those who are able bodied to remember that people with disabilities are sexual and express their sexuality in ways that are as diverse as everyone else, and to educate ourselves and others on the issue! Laws and policies have resulted in improved opportunities for people with disabilities, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act which became law in 1990. Societal attitudes in regards to sexuality and disability have changed less however. People with disabilities are often not seen as being sexual beings, with sexual desires and feelings, who need to be educated in sexual health just like others do.

Often time, those with disabilities are believed to be asexual, or having no sexual desire. Dependency on caretakers for their needs leads to an association of people with disabilities as being childlike and therefore asexual, or lacking understanding of sexual desires or activities. So often times people with disabilities are left out of sex education “A lack of sex education makes this population more vulnerable to unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease...and sexual abuse.”

Learning about sexual health is a necessity for everyone, especially those with disabilities. Advocates for Youth has a set of resources here for educators and parents, to meet people with disabilities where they are, with appropriate materials for whatever physical or cognitive level they are at.
Interested in this topic? Check out these resources!

Sexuality and Disability: Forging Identity in a World That Leaves You Out
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