CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA), the premier national physician organization in the country, voted this week to adopt new policies aimed at improving the health of the nation. The new policies, which include supporting plans to end the HIV epidemic, decriminalizing HIV status non-disclosure, and supporting access to contraception for incarcerated persons, were approved during the voting session of the AMA’s Annual Meeting.
The policies adopted by the House of Delegates include:
Advocating to end the HIV epidemic, decriminalize HIV status non-disclosure
The AMA adopted new policy aimed at supporting plans to end the HIV epidemic. Under the new policy, the AMA will strongly advocate for the funding of plans that focus on: (1) diagnosing individuals with HIV infection as early as possible, (2) treating HIV infection to achieve sustained viral suppression, (3) preventing at-risk individuals from acquiring HIV infection, including through the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); and (4) rapidly detecting and responding to emerging clusters of HIV infection to prevent transmission.
An additional policy was adopted, calling on the AMA to advocate for repealing state laws that criminalize non-disclosure of HIV status for people living with the virus. The new policy also calls on the AMA to work with other stakeholders to develop a program whose primary goal is to destigmatize HIV infection through educating the public, physicians, and other health care professionals on current medical advances in HIV treatment that minimize the risk of transmission due to viral load suppression and the availability of PrEP.
“The AMA is committed to helping put an end to the HIV epidemic by supporting plans that will help with early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of HIV,” said AMA Board Member E. Scott Ferguson, M.D. “It is also time that non-disclosure of HIV status is decriminalized. Current criminalization laws are outdated and do not reflect the current science of HIV transmission or the fact that HIV is a chronic, but manageable medical condition—particularly since non-disclosure of other infectious diseases are not criminalized.”
The new policies adopted this week build on AMA efforts to bolster education and training to combat HIV/AIDS and to increase multi-layer collaboration to increase public awareness. These policies include supporting improved education of physicians on the effective use of PrEP to prevent HIV acquisition in high-risk individuals, and advocating that all insurers be required to cover the costs associated with the administration of PrEP.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) published its latest recommendation statements on HIV screening and HIV prevention. Based on its review of the evidence, the Task Force recommends that clinicians screen for HIV in everyone age 15 to 65 years and all pregnant people. Younger adolescents and older adults at increased risk for HIV should also be screened. The Task Force also recommends that clinicians offer PrEP to people at high risk of HIV.
Supporting Access to Contraception for Persons who are Incarcerated
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 200,000 women are incarcerated in U.S. correctional facilities and the majority of these women are within reproductive age. The AMA adopted policy today aimed at supporting persons who are incarcerated in accessing contraceptive care. The policy specifically calls for persons who are incarcerated to have access to evidence-based contraception education, access to reversible contraceptive methods, as well as autonomy over the decision-making process without coercion.
“The majority of incarcerated women face multiple barriers in accessing health care, including reproductive care. It is important that we help ensure incarcerated women have access to contraceptive care, and the information they need to make their own health decisions concerning contraception prior to transitioning back into the community,” said AMA Board Member E. Scott Ferguson, M.D.
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About the American Medical Association
The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.