Disease Prevention- HIV and STDs

A division of the VDH Office of EpidemiologyDivision of Disease Prevention

The mission of the Division of Disease Prevention (DDP) is to maximize public health and safety through the elimination, prevention, and control of disease, disability, and death caused by HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, other sexually transmitted infections .

It’s Time for ADAP Clients to Sign Up for 2018 Health Insurance!

The Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.  During this time, AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) clients can sign up for Marketplace health insurance and Virginia Department of Health will help with premiums and medication co-payments.

Important Enrollment Changes:

  • The open enrollment period is shorter this year.  Sign up for health insurance now.
  • Over 1700 persons will need to change insurance carriers for 2018.  Please sign up now.
  • More community based organizations can help you sign up and pay your first premium
    • Benalytics will help Virginia ADAP clients sign up for health insurance. Call Benalytics at 1-855-483-4647.
  • Some people only have one health insurance carrier option. Please sign up for a plan with that carrier, even if your HIV doctor is not in that carrier’s network. VDH will work with the doctor you see to be sure you can receive HIV medical care. Please call VDH at (855) 362-0658 or your doctor if you have questions. 

For more information about ADAP and signing up for health insurance, click here.

Medicare Part D Open Enrollment began October 15, 2017 and goes through December 7, 2017.

Just Say No!—To Addiction Stigma

When we shame a person for a particular trait, quality, or action, it’s called stigma.  There is a lot of stigma in our society against many groups of people, like persons who have been in jail, those that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, immigrants, and persons with diseases like addiction disorders.  Stigma associated with addiction implies that the person with an addiction disorder, “did it to themselves,” or “is weak,” or “can stop at any time, they just don’t want to,” when in reality, they are struggling with a disease.

Stigma is a public health issue — it contributes to high rates of death (by overdose and suicide), incarceration, and mental health issues among persons with addiction disorders.  Thousands of Virginians are dependent on drugs or alcohol and only a small percentage receive treatment.  In fact, the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 21.5 million Americans age 12 and older had a substance use disorder in the previous year; however, sadly only 2.5 million received the specialized treatment they needed.

Stigma can also affect the public’s perception of evidence-based harm reduction strategies.  Harm reduction refers to public health interventions like:

  • Needle exchanges and sterile syringe programs
  • Substitution therapies- like methadone, buprenorphine, and other medication assisted therapies

Some people believe these programs encourage drug use – despite evidence showing that they actually decrease drug use.

Becoming dependent on drugs can happen to anyone.  It’s important to keep in mind that we need to do a better job of decreasing stigma around drug use.  Unfortunately, people who experience stigma regarding their drug use are less likely to seek treatment, which results in economic, social, and medical costs to all of us.  In the United States, costs associated with untreated addiction (including those related to healthcare, criminal justice, and lost productivity) amounts to approximately $510 billion per year.  Reducing the stigma associated with addiction disorders not only saves lives, but tax dollars.

For more information on addiction, stigma, or Virginia’s opioid epidemic, visit www.vaaware.com.

Content notice: The Division of Disease Prevention website contains HIV/STD prevention messages that may be considered explicit by some visitors.