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April 2013
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From the President: Your Voice Can Make a Difference

Members often ask how they can contribute to the Society’s work on behalf of our field. A new program, rolling out this month, provides a great way for members to get more involved by making their voices heard in our nation’s capital and around the country on a range of important issues affecting ID and HIV.

By joining the IDSA/HIVMA Member Advocacy Program (MAP), member volunteers can play a vital role in supporting the Society’s public policy efforts. It takes only a few minutes to sign up on the IDSA website after logging in with your user ID and password. The information you provide will help IDSA identify key opportunities where your actions can have a powerful impact.

As a MAP volunteer, you may be asked to write or call your members of Congress; meet with your legislators or their staff in Washington, D.C., or locally; invite lawmakers to visit your laboratory or health care facility (to illustrate the value of federal funding in your lawmaker’s state or district, for example); attend legislators’ local town hall events; send letters to the editor of your local newspaper; or speak with reporters as an IDSA or HIVMA spokesperson.

These activities can make a big difference in affecting policy. IDSA/HIVMA staff will support your outreach with key talking points and other assistance, as needed, to help you be an effective advocate.

Ensuring that the perspectives of ID and HIV experts are heard by policymakers and opinion leaders on key issues is more important than ever. It’s a critical time on a variety of issues, such as:

  • funding for biomedical research and public health, prevention, and treatment programs, domestically and globally
  • addressing increasing antibiotic resistance and the dry development pipeline for new antibiotics
  • maintaining and increasing support for the Ryan White Program to build on the benefits of health reform for people with HIV
  • ensuring that the value that ID and HIV specialists provide to patients and the health care system is recognized by payers and others

As constituents and experts in our field, you have the power to impact legislators’ and other policymakers’ decisions. The new advocacy program is just the latest example of the crucial role that members can play in the Society’s work and the opportunities available to become more involved.

Members also can join an interest group discussion list or the Emerging Infections Network (EIN), a provider-based sentinel network where members share knowledge on new disease trends, difficult cases, and other issues. (To sign up for an interest group or EIN, see the “Discuss ID Topics with Other Members” section of the My IDSA website, after logging in with your user ID and password.)

Member volunteers also develop questions for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) modules created by IDSA and HIVMA to help physicians with American Board of Internal Medicine recertification. (To volunteer, contact Rachel Shnekendorf, IDSA senior education officer.) Each month, a panel of members compiles the popular Journal Club feature in IDSA News, highlighting significant articles from the literature. (For information about joining, email IDSA News editor John Heys.)

This is not an exhaustive list. Member volunteers also contribute greatly by serving on various IDSA committees, task forces, and guideline panels, and through other means. But it’s clear that the Society’s work on behalf of our field would not be possible without you, our most valuable asset.
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