Iowa governor signs bill banning Medicaid covering transition-related healthcare

DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reyonlds, a Republican, has signed a bill that would ban the state’s Medicaid from paying for transgender people’s transition-related healthcare. The GOP-controlled Iowa legislature passed the bill earlier in the week. The law bans any Iowa taxing body from providing gender confirmation surgery surgery. It  reportedly applies to any other cosmetic reconstructive or plastic surgery procedure related to “transsexualism, hermaphroditism, gender identity disorder, or body dysmorphic disorder.”

The law goes into effect immediately. “We are deeply disappointed that Gov. Reynolds has ignored medical experts, Iowa business leaders, cost analysis data, and the many transgender Iowans and allies who shared their stories with her to sign this bill into law,” said One Iowa Action Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel.

New study shows again effective HIV treatment can prevent transmission

LONDON — A new study published in British medical journal The Lancet has found that HIV treatment that suppresses the virus has effectively zero risk of transmission to a partner. The study was released on Thursday and is the latest to show that undetectable levels of HIV means untransmissible. The National Institutes of Health said in a report in January that overwhelming evidence has established that undetectable equals untransmittable. Researchers at the 22nd International AIDS Conference confirmed last year that the chance of any HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load transmitting the virus to a sexual partner is scientifically equivalent to zero. Between Sept 15, 2010, and July 31, 2017, researchers followed almost 1,000 sero-discordant gay couples.


More orgs react to anti-LGBTQ ‘religious objection’ healthcare rule

CHICAGO — More organizations are denouncing the new Health and Human Services rule that would allow healthcare workers to refuse service with a “religious objection.” “Perhaps the most objectionable aspect of this rule is that it puts the personal beliefs of healthcare providers above their sworn duties to follow science, give all medically accurate information, and serve their patients,” said Magda Houlberg, MD, Chief Clinical Officer at Howard Brown Health in Chicago. “Despite the rule, medical providers who defy their oath and license should face sanctions, including the loss of license, at the state level.”

The health center said in a statement on Thursday that the rule restricts patients’ ability to make their own choices about their own health and would harm the most marginalized in the community. Lambda Legal also blasted the new rule in a press release sent out Thursday afternoon. “This so-called Conscience Rule is nothing more or less than a government-sanctioned attack on LGBTQ people and on women seeking reproductive health care,” Lambda Legal Interim CEO Richard Burns said.

As syphilis invades rural America, a fraying health safety net is failing to stop it

By Lauren Weber

JOPLIN, Mo. — When Karolyn Schrage first heard about the “dominoes gang” in the health clinic she runs in Joplin, Mo., she assumed it had to do with pizza. Turns out it was a group of men in their 60s and 70s who held a standing game night — which included sex with one another. They showed up at her clinic infected with syphilis. That has become Schrage’s new normal.

Howard Brown Health to help launch national research advisory network for transgender and gender nonconforming health

CHICAGO – This week, Howard Brown Health announced its participation in an innovative community-led research advisory network that will support the development of patient-centered research projects focused on addressing the health needs of transgender and gender nonconforming people (TGNC). Entitled “Four Corners: TGNC Health Research Advisory Network,” (Four Corners) includes Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C.; the Los Angeles LGBT Center; and Houston-based Legacy Community Health. Combined, the four organizations currently serve over 10,000 TGNC-identified patients. Led by Howard Brown Health, Four Corners will unite community members, researchers and clinicians from across the U.S. to facilitate equitable participation of all members to contribute to a patient-led expansion of TGNC health research. “Four Corners will establish a new standard in transgender research by including community voices from the start,” said Andie Baker, vice president of Howard Brown Health’s Center for Education, Research and Advocacy.

Prtizker signs exec order to restore HIV funding

ROCKFORD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, signed an executive order restoring public health funding for HIV care. From the State Journal-Register of Springfield:
He signed an executive order to expand access to the medicine known as PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, which can reduce the chances of getting HIV. PrEP funding was a casualty of the state budget impasse. The order also increases funding for HIV testing, the African American HIV/AIDS Response Act and other public health initiatives. “That’s what we’re here to do — to eradicate the HIV epidemic.

Howard Brown Health announces new manager of policy and advocacy

CHICAGO — Howard Brown Health announced Tuesday that Aisha Davis has been named the Manager of Policy and Advocacy for the Center for Education, Research and Advocacy (ERA). ERA’s advocacy team focuses on initiatives that improve the health and lives of people within the LGBTQ community in Chicago and beyond. The position of Manager of Policy and Advocacy works to advance patient access to affirming healthcare and address social determinants of health through public policy, grassroots efforts, and community-led education initiatives. The position of Manager of Policy and Advocacy extends Aisha’s breadth of experience in LGBTQ advocacy work. As a student of intersectionality, Aisha has worked on civil and human rights issues throughout her legal career, including work with Amnesty International, the Human Rights Foundation, Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, and the African American Policy Forum.

People living with HIV in Illinois could win gift card taking Illinois HIV Care Connect quiz

SPRINGFIELD — People living with HIV in Illinois have the opportunity to win one of 20 Amazon gift cards, valued at $25 each, by taking Illinois HIV Care Connect’s “Good Health Is More Than Health Care” Quiz by Feb. 15, the Illinois Public Health Association announced Thursday. People living with HIV in Illinois are encouraged to review the “Good Health Is More Than Health Care” web content before taking the quiz. The content and a link to the quiz can be found at The quiz can be found at

NIH: With HIV, undetectable equals untransmittable

WASHINGTON — Officials with the National Institutes of Health said in a new report on Thursday that overwhelming evidence has established that undetectable equals untransmittable with HIV. From the NIH:
U=U means that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—the amount of HIV in the blood—by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others. Writing in JAMA, officials from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) review the scientific evidence underlying U=U and discuss the implications of widespread acceptance of the message. In the new commentary, NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and colleagues summarize results from large clinical trials and cohort studies validating U=U. The landmark NIH-funded HPTN 052 clinical trial showed that no linked HIV transmissions occurred among HIV serodifferent heterosexual couples when the partner living with HIV had a durably suppressed viral load.