New campaign seeks to eliminate HIV / AIDS stigma among Latinos

From PR Newswire

“Some Hispanics may avoid seeking testing, counseling, or treatment if infected because of immigration status, stigma, or fear of discrimination. Additionally, traditional gender roles, cultural norms, homophobia, transphobia and other stigma related to substance abuse and mental health are challenging,” stated Guillermo Chacon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS and Founder of the Hispanic Health Network.

oneconversation_campaignmaterials_pandora_500x500_eng_staticThough Hispanics are only 17 percent of the population, they make more than 23 percent of new HIV diagnoses each year. In 2013, Hispanics had the second highest rate of new HIV diagnoses compared to other races/ethnicities.

It’s time for younger generations to get involved to stop HIV/AIDS. La Red Hispana is addressing the issue by working with its media affiliates nationwide — with an audience of 11 million people — to provide accessibility to resources via radio, digital and social media. We can stop HIV, one conversation a time.

“We are convinced that information is a powerful weapon to dispel fears of HIV. As Latinos join the conversation about HIV, it becomes more natural to talk about a topic that was taboo for the community before,” said Alison Rodden, CEO of Hispanic Communications Network- La Red Hispana.

Among the organizations joining HCN’s effort include AIDS Project East Bay, Latino Commission on AIDS, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, National Minorities AIDS Council, AIDS.gov and Health Initiative of the America part ofUniversity of California at Berkeley.

Pinyon Foundation and HCN are members of the Partnering and Communicating Together to Act Against AIDS (PACT) initiative- a five-year partnership between CDC and organizations representing those affected by HIV/ AIDS.

For more information about the campaign, visit LaRedHispana.org/detengamosvih

 

30th anniversary celebration of PATF honors Dr. Tony Silvestre

Hundreds gathered at the WQED studios in Oakland on Thursday, April 14th at a fundraiser to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. The evening’s honoree, Dr. Anthony Silvestre received the prestigious Kerry Stoner Award in recognition of his extraordinary efforts in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Tony Silvestre, PhD - Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Tony Silvestre, PhD – Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Dr. Silvestre became an integral part of the Pitt Men’s Study—a groundbreaking research project at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health—in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Silvestre, known for his experience in community organization, recruited 4,000 participants from the greater Pittsburgh area—the vast majority of whom would spend the next 33 years donating blood and answering in-depth sexual health questions as a means to understand and therefore combat the disease. The Pitt Men’s Study played a key role in research that not only helped determine how the virus was spread, but also the effectiveness of modern anti-viral medications (also known as HAART).

In addition to the Kerry Stoner Award, Silvestre also received a citation honoring his achievements in combating HIV/AIDS statewide from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

“People don’t realize that this disease is still tragically affecting many—with young black gay kids at a rate as high as in some developing nations. Those who are marginalized by race, age and sexual orientation are not on anyone’s agenda and, as a result, are often left out of the health care system,” Silvestre commented at the event. “That’s why we need organizations like PATF and the Pitt Men’s Study.”

For most of his adult life, Silvestre was central to the LGBTQ community in Southwestern Pennsylvania, lending his skills and experience to effect positive change for marginalized communities. In addition to his efforts with the Pitt Men’s Study, he worked to establish a Center for LGBT Health Research within the Graduate School of Public Health and is currently the co-director of the HIV Prevention and Care Project—an organization also within the University that provides technical assistance to the Pennsylvania Department of Health in creating a state-wide response to the AIDS epidemic.

The Kerry Stoner Award is presented annually to honor a person who has, through a longtime dedication to Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force’s mission, shown commitment to Kerry Stoner’s legacy and vision. Stoner, a tireless HIV/AIDS activist who died of complications from AIDS in 1993, was a founder and the first Executive Director of the PATF.

The PATF 30the anniversary event raised over $100,000 in support of people living with HIV/AIDS and in support of the PATF HIV prevention programs.

 

National Coalition of STD Directors honors April as National STD Awareness Month

Washington, D.C. – Every April, the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) is proud to join its member health departments, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other partners to recognize April as National STD (sexually transmitted diseases) Awareness Month.  With the reality that last year, for the first time since 2006, rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis all increased concurrently, we dedicate this month to renewing the fight against STDs and refocus our members, ourselves, and our communities on sexual health and STD prevention.

“At a time when we are seeing skyrocketing STD rates, particularly rates of syphilis, we know that STD programs in state and local health departments need more funding, providers of all kinds need to scale up STD screening, and we need a renewed focus on encouraging condom use,” stated William A. Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD).

logoIn 2014, for the third year in a row, reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis – the stages where the infection is most likely to spread – have increased by double digits.  In 2012, primary and secondary syphilis increased by 11 percent, in 2013, by 10 percent, and in 2014, by a shocking 15 percent.  Monitoring and controlling these STD epidemics are state, territorial, and local public health STD programs, which are the backbone of our national STD infrastructure.  However, the current public health infrastructure has been continually strained by budget reductions at the federal, state, and local levels and is cannot sufficiently prepare for the reality of rising rates of STDs, and other outbreaks.

To bring attention to these growing needs, NCSD will be hosting a Congressional Briefing On April 13th, titled “Syphilis Resurgence and Why STD Programs Are Critical to the Nation’s Health.”  To bring this message home, NCSD will also be mailing “syphilis and gonorrhea to the Hill” in the form of mailing stuffed microbes to all Members of Congress’ offices.  Please contact NCSD’s Director of Policy and Communications, Stephanie Arnold Pang, for additional information on these events.

In addition, to ensure that policymakers and their staff are aware of the importance of STD programs, this year NCSD is sponsoring a Virtual Hill Day for STD Awareness on April 26th.  More information on this opportunity can be found here.  NCSD has also created a number of materials available for members’ and partners’ use to honor STD Awareness Month, including a draft op-ed, and sample social media posts, including a Thunderclap to coincides with the Virtual Hill Day for STD Awareness, which are available on NCSD’s website.

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The National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) is a partnership of public health professionals dedicated to promoting sexual health through the prevention of STDs. NCSD provides dynamic leadership that strengthens STD Programs by advocating for effective policies, strategies,and sufficient resources by increasing awareness of the medical and social impacts of STDs.
For more information, visit www.NCSDDC.org.  

Black Lives Matter: What’s PrEP Got to Do With It?

From the Black AIDS Institute

Los Angeles, April 19, 2016—Today the Black AIDS Institute, in partnership with Gilead Sciences, is releasing its 2016 report on the State of AIDS in Black America: “Black Lives Matter: What’s PrEP Got to Do With It?” The report focuses on what Black communities need to know about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and other new biomedical HIV prevention tools.

Black lives matter and PrEPMany scientists, doctors and advocates believe that the scientific tools needed to end the AIDS epidemic already exist. Unfortunately, as the persistently unacceptable high rates of new HIV infections underscore, these tools are not being applied effectively in Black communities. While new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. as a whole fell 19 percent between 2005 and 2014, new cases among Black gay and bisexual men, for example, increased by 87 percent.

When used correctly, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV by over 90% for HIV-negative individuals with an HIV-positive partner; however, it is still being underutilized in Black communities.

Read the full article.

National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day: The realities of our lives

From the HRC blog

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused a media firestorm when it announced that Black men who have sex with men in the United States now have a 50 percent chance of being diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.

Youth and HIVBut for us, this is not some abstract statistic. It is the reality of our lives. And it is not the whole story either. Often lost in mainstream coverage of HIV are the ways stigma and discrimination put young people like us at increased risk for HIV – while also limiting our ability to get tested or seek treatment.

How can we take steps to reduce the spread of HIV if our schools failed to offer comprehensive sex education? How could we be expected to take advantage of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – the once-daily pill regimen that can prevent HIV – if there were no providers in our communities willing to prescribe it? How could we be expected to adhere to our medication and reach an undetectable viral load if we were constantly worried about where were going to put our heads at night? Or, what food we were going to eat? These are the questions young people are grappling with as we continue to make-up more than 25 percent of all new HIV transmissions in the U.S. These are the questions that demand answers.

But rather than scaring young people into submission with reminders of how terrible things used to be, we should be empowering them to make smarter, healthier choices. Young people don’t need to be shielded from the truth about HIV and AIDS. What we need is love, compassion, and mentorship from the people around us. What we need are laws and policies that affirm all of who we are. Only then will an “AIDS-free generation” ever truly be in sight.

Continue reading on the HRC blog.

Web series explores what it means to be undetectable

From the Huffington Post

A new web series from Todd Flaherty is elevating the conversation surrounding what it means to have an undetectable HIV-positive status and helping to break down stigma for those living with HIV.

what is undetectableAccording to Tyler Curry, creator of The Needle Prick Project, “an HIV-positive person can achieve undetectable levels after undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART). A level of a person’s HIV viral load is what causes them to be more or less likely to transmit the disease. An undetectable viral load reduces the likelihood of transmission by 96 percent.”

Many people, queer and straight alike, are still uneducated about what exactly undetectable means. Flaherty’s new web series, appropriately titled “Undetectable,” follows a fictional gay man after he finds out about his own HIV diagnosis and his subsequent journey.

The Huffington Post chatted with Flaherty this week about his new project.

Targeting social media may increase HIV testing among gay men

From Reuters Health

Promoting HIV testing on some of the same social media sites that men who have sex with men and transgender people use to meet friends and sex partners can raise testing rates in these communities, according to results of a U.S. trial.

Social media can increase testing“Our results are surprising because we were not sure that men and transgender persons would readily accept HIV testing information within the social media and social networking sites that some of them use,” said lead author Scott D. Rhodes of Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “But we learned that after trust was built, they were eager for information about HIV testing and guidance about how to access testing services.”

We assume that people are knowledgeable about HIV and how to get tested, but that’s not the case, he told Reuters Health by email.

The researchers used the intervention in two online communities and posted in another two forums without the intervention for comparison. The communities, including Adam4Adam, BlackGayChat, Craigslist and Gay.com, are designed for users to meet up in person, so the researchers targeted geographic locations 200 to 330 miles apart to prevent user overlap.

Within each online outlet, a health educator created a public profile and posted triggers about the importance of HIV testing, his availability to help and information on where testing services were available. The profiles were accessible to anyone and the health educator would engage with users who instant-messaged him.

On Craigslist, the educator posted HIV testing information and triggers every three to four hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in 2013 and 2014.

The researchers offered site users $10 to complete an assessment, including information on drug and alcohol use, age, race, sexual orientation, HIV status and testing history over the previous year.

More than 1,000 users completed the assessment and most declined the $10 compensation. On average users were 40 years old, almost all reported sex with at least one man and one-third reported sex with at least one woman over the last year.

At the beginning of the year, about 35 percent of users in each group reported having been tested for HIV over the previous 12 months. After the intervention was complete, 64 percent of those in the intervention communities said they had been tested for HIV in the previous year compared to 40 percent of those in the control groups, as reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“Gay and bisexual men as well as transgender women are disproportionally impacted by HIV (that is, by virtue of being a gay or bisexual man, or transgender woman, you are more likely to come in contact with HIV), and thus it is important to ensure frequent HIV testing and linkage to treatment,” said Christian Grov of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy in New York City, who was not part of the new study.

These groups did respond to the social media intervention, Rhodes said.

“HIV testing is important for anyone who is sexually active, and the CDC recommends that all individuals get tested at least once in their lifetimes and those with risk factors get tested more frequently,” he said.

Read the full article.