On National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, announcing our new ARSHEP module: HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Adolescents

In 2014, nearly a quarter of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States were among young people aged 13-24. Young people, particularly those in marginalized communities, face unique challenges when it comes to HIV and AIDS, and National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to talk about what we can do to improve health care services for at-risk youth.

One of the biggest recent developments in HIV prevention is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): a daily medication that is highly effective in preventing HIV infection. But because PrEP is relatively new, many physicians haven’t been trained in providing it – particularly to young patients. That’s why we’re excited to join with Dr. Vinny Chulani, an active faculty member in Physicians for Reproductive Health’s Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Education Program (ARSHEP) and a leading advocate for youth sexual and reproductive health, in marking National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day with two announcements on how we’re working to take on the challenge of youth HIV.

Dr. Chulani is an adolescent medicine specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. His work with homeless, LGBT, and commercially sexually exploited youth, who are particularly at risk for HIV, has made him deeply aware of the urgent need for HIV prevention services for young people in the local community. Today, Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Section of Adolescent Medicine and Bill Holt Clinic HIV programs are announcing Phoenix PrEP Access Project, a new HIV PrEP service to provide at-risk youth with access to the preventive medication that will dramatically reduce their risk for HIV.

Physicians for Reproductive Health has also chosen this day to release the newest module in our ARSHEP curriculum, HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Adolescents, created in collaboration with Dr. Chulani as well as with the New York Promoting and Advancing Teen Health project at Columbia University. In this module, we’ve provided an overview of what PrEP is, how to determine when a patient is a good candidate to use it, and additional resources for more information on HIV and PrEP. We hope this module will help medical professionals who care for young people to add PrEP to their practice. 

Gorsuch’s Confirmation Would Endanger Women’s Health

Physicians for Reproductive Health opposes the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ahead of the cloture vote in the Senate, Advocacy Fellow Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper issued the following statement:

“Judge Gorsuch’s record on reproductive health care is clear: he puts politics ahead of the health of American women. He has ruled in favor of allowing employers to interfere with employees’ private medical decisions about contraception, and he went out of his way to try to block patients in Utah from accessing health care at Planned Parenthood. With his alarming record, he cannot be trusted to uphold Roe v. Wade, the settled law of the land for 44 years, or respect medical evidence that shows the public health benefits of contraception and legal abortion.

It is outrageous that in 2017, patients have to worry about their ability to access a legal medical procedure, both now and in the future. Far too many people already encounter incredible difficulty accessing abortion care. We know that restrictions on abortion harm those who are already most vulnerable, including people of color, low-income families, and adolescents.

The Supreme Court must protect the health of all Americans, especially during a time when Congress is actively working to limit access to reproductive health care. President Trump promised his Supreme Court nominee would vote to overturn Roe, and Judge Gorsuch has not given any assurance that he would uphold Roe. His confirmation would be dangerous for women’s health. We continue to oppose Judge Gorsuch’s nomination and ask the Senate to vote no.” 

Use Your Voice for Reproductive Rights

Ever since November’s election, many of us have been asking the same question: what can I do? Physicians for Reproductive Health has always believed in the power of advocacy: we work to shift the conversation by sharing both our medical expertise and our personal stories with the public and with policymakers. Whether you are a medical provider or a patient, your voice is an invaluable tool for making a difference. So, how do you go about using it? We’ve collected some of the best resources for getting engaged in this political moment so that you can pick the ones that are right for you.*
Hold your elected officials accountable
Your national, state, and local elected officials are supposed to represent you, and they know that to stay in office they need their actions to match their constituents’ values. Whether it’s by writing an email or a letter, making a phone call, scheduling an office visit, or attending a town hall meeting or another public event, get into the habit of making your opinion known.

We’ve already seen constituent action play a big role in protecting the Affordable Care Act—keep this momentum going and tell your legislators to oppose reproductive health threats like Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court and bills to defund Planned Parenthood.

Become a part of something bigger
We’re always stronger together than we are alone. Find a community, real or virtual, and start taking action as a group.

  • Join an organization of other healthcare providers who are mobilizing to protect our vulnerable patients like National Physicians Alliance or Clinician Action.
  • Beat the Tea Party at their own game as part of your local Indivisible group.
  • Keep the spirit of unity from the Women’s March with 10 Actions 100 Days, actions ranging from postcards to strikes to getting educated on intersectional feminism.

Amplify your voice
Putting our own words out in the world connects us to others, and it can be the most effective means of changing minds. Whether it’s by blogging, getting published, or participating in storytelling, share your perspective.

  • Share your stories to ensure reproductive health access and safety for all with Physicians for Reproductive Health’s storytelling project Voices of Courage.
  • Contribute to the TEACH Blog, “Beyond Training: Pearls for Practice.” Be a voice for our community and share how you are continuing to provide despite the current adversity we face.
  • Write letters to the editor or op-eds, in your local paper or in national publications with help from the OpEd Project.

* These resources are intended to help you find ways to take action on the issues you believe in. This list is not necessarily an endorsement of every policy position taken by the above organizations. 

Voting to Weaken Access to Title X Providers Is Pure Discrimination

Today, the Senate will vote on a disapproval of a rule President Obama put into place last year that clarified the qualifications for funding Title X family planning services. The Obama Title X regulation reiterates longstanding Title X law, prohibiting Title X grant recipients from excluding highly qualified family planning providers, like Planned Parenthood. The House already voted on the measure, which, if it is approved by the Senate, is anticipated to be signed by President Trump. In response to the vote, Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Dr. Willie Parker issued the following statement:

“Our patients who rely on Title X family planning funding—including people of color, people with low incomes, and those who live in rural areas—already face systemic barriers to getting health care. Voting to weaken access to high-quality providers, like Planned Parenthood, for these patients is pure discrimination. Title X clinics are often the only high-quality provider in my patients’ communities and the only way they can get well-woman exams, birth control, and cancer screenings—and this would eliminate more options for them to get quality care they need. The federal government’s priority should be improving all Americans’ access to health care. Opponents of Title X funding have called it an ‘entitlement’ program. They are right—women and families are entitled to the services covered by this rule, making it shameful to exclude any provider who can meet this need.”