February 7 marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and Maryland healthcare advocates see it as an opportunity to provide healthcare options for people who are uninsured.

The state-run insurance exchange Maryland Health Connection has extended open enrollment through February 28. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition is jointly hosting events over the next week for uninsured residents of Baltimore and Prince George’s County.

Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said for people with HIV/AIDS, having insurance is critical to afford medications.

“What’s really important to know is that all of our plans cover prescription drug costs, and so that’s very important,” said Eberle. “If you’re looking at having to buy drugs or covered drugs that are very expensive, you want to make sure that you have health insurance that will cover that.”

On Saturday, get free help with health-insurance enrollment from 9 am to 5 pm at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Baltimore clinic, and on February 7, at the group’s Temple Hills Clinic from 10 am to 6 pm. There will also be HIV testing, music, and giveaways at both events.

Seventy-one percent of the 33,000 Maryland residents living with HIV/AIDS are Black, according to 2019 data. Jeremy Myers, community mobilizer and activist of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said getting coverage can improve health outcomes for all Marylanders.

“As we come up on Black History Month,” said Myers, “I think it would definitely be on cue to mention how this affects not only the community at large but the communities of color and poor communities. By getting people enrolled, I really think that will help with impacting how HIV and AIDS have affected our communities.”

More than 180,000 Maryland residents have enrolled in coverage through the state health insurance exchange for 2022 so far, an all-time high.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service

Diane Bernard is a digital and radio journalist based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area with more than 10 years of journalism experience. Her print and online credits include work for The Washington...

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