After a 19-month nightmare of facing criminal charges, possible imprisonment, and almost losing her job, a 25-year-old Pennsylvania woman has emerged victorious after striking a blow in the fight against HIV criminalization.
Julie Graham, a licensed practical nurse from Lebanon County, was charged with four crimes, including two felonies, based on allegations by a man she had dated who claimed she had not disclosed her HIV status. The man who made the complaint against her did not contract HIV. Click here for the full story.
AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania Expands to South New Jersey
To ensure that people with HIV and AIDS in South Jersey have access to free legal services, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania announced effective March 1 that it has expanded into the region, creating the AIDS Law Project of Southern New Jersey.
The program that previously provided those services faced an uncertain future when All About Hope, which administered it, recently closed its doors, a prospect that alarmed AIDS advocates.
The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania created the program in South Jersey in the mid 1990s and maintained a relationship with it through the years.
This month, the relationship rises to a new level as the New Jersey program comes under the umbrella of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. The expansion brings considerable additional firepower to South Jersey, with the AIDS Law Project’s 26 years of experience in HIV and AIDS legal issues and its nationally recognized team of staff attorneys, paralegals, support staff and volunteer attorneys.
“Free legal services for people with HIV and AIDS are vital and we wanted to be sure they continued in South Jersey,” said Ronda B. Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania.
Charlotte Hollander, the sole staff attorney for the New Jersey AIDS Law Project, said she is excited about the expansion. She will continue to work out of offices at Kennedy Health System’s HIV/AIDS Clinic in Voorhees and Cooper Health System’s Early Intervention Program in Camden.
Hollander said housing legal services in a health care clinic has great advantages for clients, offering them one-stop shopping for their needs.
“There’s a tremendous need in South Jersey,” Hollander said. “The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania has resources that I didn’t have before.”
The South Jersey office will work on legal issues including public and private benefits, discrimination, housing and utilities, medical confidentiality and financial matters. Bilingual services also will be available in South Jersey.
Pam Gorman, administrative director at the Cooper program, described the legal services as “invaluable” and was a strong supporter of making sure the organization survived.
“I’m thrilled that these services are continuing,” Gorman said. For more information about the AIDS Law Project of Southern New Jersey, click HERE.
Waheedah Shabazz-El: An Amazing HIV-Positive Woman
Waheedah Shabazz-El, a member of the AIDS Law Project’s board of directors, has been named by HIVPlusMag.com to its list of the 20 Most Amazing HIV-Positive Women.
It’s impossible to imagine any such list that did not include Waheedah. She is an impassioned and relentless advocate for HIV-positive women.
“Because of the stigma that is associated with HIV, I learned early on that in order to live, I had to NOT be silent, but be visible and vigilant,” she told the HIV Philly blog, of Philadelphia’s Office of HIV Planning, in 2012.
Waheedah is an HIV counselor and tester at Philadelphia Fight, but her activism extends far beyond normal working hours to volunteer service with numerous local and national groups.
The AIDS Law Project has been honored to work with Waheedah and we look forward to continuing the struggle with her in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
For the full story about Waheedah on HIVPlusMag.com, go to http://www.hivplusmag.com/people/2015/02/11/no-6-20-most-amazing-hiv-positive-women-waheedah-shabazz-el.
Gov. Wolf to scrap Healthy PA, adopt “traditional expansion” of Medicaid
As you may have heard, Governor Wolf announced Feb. 9 that he will replace the complicated Medicaid plan put in place by former Governor Corbett with a “traditional expansion.
Corbett’s plan, called “Healthy PA,” offered different benefits packages based on a recipient’s expected need for care. Gov. Wolf’s “traditional expansion” will have one benefits package for everyone. It will be designed to reduce confusion and streamline the system.
No timeline has been released for the new system. For now, Healthy PA remains in place and current coverage will not be immediately impacted. We will send updates as more information becomes available.
Until the new system is in place, please make sure clients are enrolled in the Healthy Plus benefits package. Clients erroneously assigned to Healthy or Healthy PA PCO, have several options:
1. Begin the “raise your hand” process of switching to Healthy Plus by submitting to DHS (DPW) a health screening questionnaire and/or an Employability Assessment Form. The health screening questionnaire is Appendix C of the Health Care Application, available here. The EAF should clearly document HIV infection and preferably indicate disability lasting for a year or more.
2. Call the AIDS Law Project at 215-587-9377 during our intake hours – 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday – for assistance.
Lancaster County coroner’s private medical practice hit with federal lawsuit for denying treatment to HIV-positive man and his family
PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 1, 2014) – A private health-care practice directed by the Lancaster County coroner was sued in federal court today on World AIDS Day by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania on behalf of a man who was denied treatment because he is HIV-positive.
The denial, communicated in a letter to the man from Stephen G. Diamantoni, M.D., & Associates Family Practice, applies to his wife and his daughter as well. Refusing to treat a person with a disability — in this case, HIV — is illegal under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit is filed on behalf of “Husband, Wife and Daughter Jones,” who are using pseudonyms because federal rules require that a minor child’s identity be protected in a lawsuit. Continue Reading…
The AIDS Law Project has been busy protecting Pennsylvanians living with HIV and AIDS. Click here for some recent victories.