Facing AIDS theme of National HIV Testing Day

From AIDS.gov

Facing AIDS is a digital photo sharing initiative with the goal of reducing HIV-related stigma and promoting HIV testing. Many AIDS.gov blog readers have contributed personal messages to the Facing AIDS photo gallery, most recently in recognition of World AIDS Day (December 1, 2012 – visit the gallery to see the inspiring messages collected over the five years of the initiative). Many of your Facing AIDS messages highlight the importance of confronting stigma and echo the theme of National HIV Testing Day: Take the Test. Take Control. That consistency made it easy for our team to re-purpose the photos into the newest video in our Facing AIDS series. To learn how participate in Facing AIDS, read this blog post. To watch other videos in the Facing AIDS series, please use this playlist Exit Disclaimer. Click here to learn more about locating HIV testing near you. Please watch and share the “Facing AIDS for National HIV Testing Day” video.

Huffington Post blog addresses HIV stigma

The HIV Shame Game: What Role Do You Play?

 – Freelance columnist and fiction writer; creator, The Needle Prick Project

[…] According to the Center for Disease Control, 44 percent of people who are HIV positive are unaware of their status. Unfortunately, the people who may be perpetuating the shame game may soon find that it is they who need the bath. This is where the real danger lies. Allowing language like this to permeate our culture only serves to promote the continuation of the HIV epidemic and enforce a second viral class among the gay community.

Of course, the burden of change rests on the shoulders of those affected the most by the shame game. It may seem easier for HIV-positive men to retreat into the shadows when friends and strangers alike unknowingly use language that make them feel like a pariah in dignitaries’ clothing. However, many of these accidental offenders are victim of the same phenomenon that was the basis of so much prejudice against gay men and women. They simply don’t have a personal connection to the disease. HIV-positive men owe it to themselves to speak out against language that demeans their worth. They also owe it to their HIV-negative friends to educate them on the reality so that they don’t continue to proliferate stigma or believe that they are removed from risk.

HIV-positive men aren’t victims, vampires, zombies or martyrs. The social and psychological factors surrounding infection are complex, difficult and impossible to simplify into one category.

Of course, the language we use and terminology we’ve chosen to isolate one another is just the one element of the shaming that goes on within the gay community. Combating HIV stigma is a multifarious problem that will require numerous endeavors and will take time before we start seeing measurable change.

Read the full post on The Huffington Post Blog.

Health Alert – meningococcal meningitis

From the Pitt Men’s Study

You may have heard about the recent cases of bacterial meningitis among gay men in in New York and LA County.  Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord. The swelling associated with meningitis often triggers the “hallmark” signs and symptoms of this condition, including headache, fever and a stiff neck.

Most cases of meningitis in the U.S. are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections can also cause the disease.  The recent cases of meningitis in New York and LA County were caused by a bacteria called meningococcus.  This bacteria can spread through intimate contact such as sharing eating utensils, kissing, and close physical contact (including all forms of sex, of course).

Viral infections usually get better on their own.  However, bacterial infections require immediate medical treatment with antibiotics and can result in serious illness and death. It is also worth noting that persons with immune system deficiencies are particularly susceptible to the disease.

Initially, meningitis symptoms may resemble the flu, with worsening headache, vomiting, and a sudden high fever (over 101.3). People may also often develop neck stiffness and sensitivity to light.  If left untreated, people often progress to confusion, coma, and ultimately death.

There are vaccinations to prevent the deadly forms of meningitis and the Pitt Men’s Study recommends that if you are traveling to New York City or Los Angeles, and plan to be in close quarters with other gay men, you might want to consider getting vaccinated with the meningococcal vaccination.

For more information about meningitis, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website:
http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/bacterial.html

For more information about the recent outbreak of meningitis among gay men in New York and LA County, go to:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/health/for-gay-men-a-fear-that-feels-familiar.html