Come out against stigma, live out proud

by  – Executive Director of the National Minority AIDS Council

 

The fight against HIV/AIDS has always been about more than the search for medicine or a cure. It has been a battle for human dignity, to demonstrate that each life, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, nation of origin, or religion, has inherent value. From the beginning, this epidemic has taken the largest toll on our most marginalized communities. From gay men and transgender women to injection-drug users and people of color, those who are most often shut out of our nation’s halls of affluence and power are also the most vulnerable to a whole host of health challenges, including HIV.

A few days ago I had the honor of participating in a panel on HIV sponsored by U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Caucus. During the event the always-inspiring Douglas Brooks, who is the first black gay man living with HIV to head the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, gave brief opening remarks in which he quoted the Bible, saying, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). As we once again marked National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (Sept. 27), this simple verse resonated with me in a powerful way and seemed to reflect the position that so many gay men, especially gay men living with HIV, find themselves in.

Continue reading on the Huffington Post.

Kaiser Family Foundation releases new alarming report reflecting gay and bisexual men’s attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with HIV/AIDS

From Gay Men’s Health Crisis

On Thursday, September 25, 2014, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a new alarming report reflecting gay and bisexual men’s attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with HIV/AIDS and new HIV therapies in the United States. Their survey on HIV/AIDS in the lives of gay and bisexual men in the United States reports that 56% of gay and bisexual men are not personally concerned about HIV or AIDS affecting them and 30% have never been tested for HIV.

“HIV/AIDS might not be a death sentence anymore, but there are still 50,000 new infections in the United States every year-and gay and bisexual men are still among those most at risk,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. ” The Kaiser Family Foundation study is a needed wake-up call that communicating the correct information about HIV and AIDS to the public has never been more critical. We must do more to educate our gay and bisexual men about how HIV and AIDS can affect them, and how life-saving medications like PrEP and PEP can help them prevent HIV infections and stay healthy.”

Additional Background:
Eight out ten gay and bisexual men surveyed also said that they have heard a little or nothing about PrEP, a life-saving medication that can prevent HIV-infections. Additional findings from the survey can be found here. The Foundation’s survey comes on the heels of a new CDC report showing that 58% of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV are not virally suppressed.

More than half of gay and bi men haven’t been asked by a doctor to take an HIV test

Find free HIV testing locations near you by entering your zip code at http://hivtest.cdc.gov

Find free HIV testing locations near you by entering your zip code at http://hivtest.cdc.gov

From the New York Times

Gay men and their doctors aren’t talking enough about sex, and that’s making it harder to control the spread of H.I.V.

That’s the conclusion of a new survey of gay and bisexual men by the Kaiser Family Foundation released on Thursday. It found that 47 percent of the men have never discussed their sexual orientation with their doctors, and 56 percent have never been advised by a doctor to be tested for H.I.V.

For decades we’ve been hearing that H.I.V. is not a gay disease, and that’s true globally, but it’s a misrepresentation of the epidemic in the United States. That misunderstanding can lead to a complacency that furthers its spread, public health officials warn. A majority of new infections occur among men who have sex with men. Kaiser estimates that 12 to 13 percent of gay and bisexual men in the United States are living with H.I.V., more than 20 times the rate among the general population.

“It’s in the highest bracket of prevalence that you see in some of the hardest-hit countries in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Jen Kates, Kaiser’s director of global health and H.I.V. policy. “It’s not that America shouldn’t care about H.I.V., but that gay and bisexual men should care more.”

Continue reading on the New York Times online.

Twenty-five young gay men get real about HIV as part of #SpeakOutHIV

From the Kaiser Family Foundation

25 under 25 speak out

25 under 25 speak out

MENLO PARK, CA – Twenty-five young gay men get real about HIV as part of #SpeakOutHIV, a  campaign from Greater Than AIDS. The group is encouraging people to break the silence around HIV on social media in the two weeks between National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (September 27) and National Coming Out Day (October 11).

Anchored by a series of powerful personal videos recorded by men who are 25 or younger, #SpeakOutHIV challenges people to post their own stories about HIV on YouTube and share through Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms as part of a collective effort to promote more open discussion about the issue.

The campaign comes at a critical time. New HIV infections are rising among young gay men. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 22 percent increase in new infections among gay men ages 13-24 between 2008 and 2010. Overall, young gay men account for one in five new infections in the United States, a share far greater than their representation in the population.

“Despite the continued impact of HIV, gay and bisexual men are not talking about HIV even with those closest to them,” noted Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President and Director of Health Communication and Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation – a co-founding partner in Greater Than AIDS.  “#SpeakOutHIV is about promoting a more open dialogue about HIV in all aspects of life, in relationships, with health care providers and within the community generally.”

The young men featured in #SpeakOutHIV offer unfiltered, intimate accounts about how HIV has affected them and what they want others to know about the disease. They come from regions with high rates of HIV, including the South. The majority are men of color. About one third are HIV positive.

Continue reading on the Kaiser Family Foundation Website.

HIV Treatment Works national communication campaign for people living with HIV

he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) HIV Treatment Works national communication campaign for people living with HIV features the stories of individuals living with HIV talking about how sticking to treatment helps them stay healthy, protect others, do what they love, and live a longer, healthier life. Visit the campaign website for resources and free materials: http://www.cdc.gov/HIVTreatmentWorks. More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV.

Health Alert for men in Pennsylvania – Syphilis on the rise again

The Pennsylvania Department of Health in conjunction with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has documented an alarming increase in Syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Allegheny County. As of September 10, 2014, the ACHD has reported 67 cases of early Syphilis which now exceeds the total of 63 cases reported in all of 2013. Here is a breakdown of the data:
·       54% of the cases have been reported individuals under the age of 30
·       96% of the cases reported were male
·       75% of the male cases reported with MSM risk factors (had sex with other men)
·       39% of the male cases were co-infected with HIV
You can get Syphilis and not have any symptoms so the only way to know you’re infected is to get tested with a simple blood test.   And if you do have symptoms, note that Syphilis has any number of symptoms that can look like symptoms from other diseases. One example is a painless sore that you would get after you are first infected can be confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or other seemingly harmless bump.  Another example is a rash over the body that can sometimes (but not always) involve the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. As a result of the uptick in Syphilis cases, we are recommending that all sexually active MSM get a Syphilis test. The PA Department of Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control recommend that all sexually active MSM receive full STD screening (including HIV) annually.  The Pitt Men’s Study offers testing for syphilis (as well as testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) as part of your routine study visit.  Free testing is also available at the Allegheny County Department of Health.  

To find testing near you, check out the CDC testing database at http://hivtest.cdc.gov/

To find out more about Syphilis specifically, go to http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis.htm

To subscribe to Pitt Men’s Study Health Alerts, send an email to rgy2@pitt.edu with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.

To find out more about Health Alerts, go to http://pittmensstudy.com/health-alerts/

County health officials get court order to stop HIV-infected man

From the Seattle Times

In a very unusual step, King County public-health officials have gone to court to try to stop a man with HIV who has infected eight partners in the past four years from infecting others.

“We’re not trying to criminalize sexual behavior here,” said Dr. Matthew Golden, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County’s HIV/STD Control Program. “We are trying to protect the public’s health. And we’re trying to make sure that everyone gets the care they need, including the person involved in this.”

The order, issued Sept. 4 by King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector, requires the man, identified only as “AO,” to follow a “cease-and-desist” order issued in late July by the public-health department requiring him to attend counseling and all treatment appointments made by public-health officials.

If he defies the court order, the judge could order escalating fines or even jail time.

“AO” tested positive at the Public Health STD Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in June 2008, where he was counseled to disclose his status to sex partners and how he should practice safe sex, according to papers filed in the court case.

Since then, despite having received HIV counseling at least five more times, he is believed to have infected eight adult partners from 2010 through this June. Public-health officials said in the court documents that eight people newly diagnosed with HIV had named AO as a partner with whom they’d had unprotected sex.

The officials in July and August served “AO” with “cease-and-desist” orders, the first specifying he attend counseling and the second adding the requirement he seek HIV treatment.

Continue reading on the Seattle Times online.