No evidence of stigma towards people using PrEP on dating apps

From Avert.org

The study, published ahead-of-print in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, monitored reactions on dating ‘hookup’ apps to see whether negative stereotypes of people on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) led to unfavourable reactions to people who said they were using PrEP.

The research was carried out in response to damaging labels that described PrEP users as promiscuous and irresponsible, which have surfaced in recent years on social media.

Just over 200 respondents from the USA viewed four fake dating profiles displaying identical pictures and information, with one crucial difference. The profiles described themselves as either HIV-negative, HIV-positive, a PrEP user, or a recreational substance user. Participants were then asked to rate each profile on a number of factors, including attractiveness, desirability and trustworthiness.

The study found participants rated profiles of people on PrEP as positively as HIV-negative profiles. However, HIV-positive profiles and profiles where people indicated they used substances were rated significantly less attractive and desirable than HIV-negative or PrEP profiles.

Crucially, when the sample was split by history of PrEP use, those who had not taken PrEP before rated HIV-positive profiles as significantly less attractive and less desirable, compared to HIV-negative profiles.

Read the full article.

Young people dying as stigma, misunderstanding prevent HIV treatment

From Canada’s CBC News

When Saskatoon man Ian Longman found out he had HIV, it was two years before he sought treatment. He thought the diagnosis meant certain death, and he didn’t know treatment was an option.

Ian Longman almost died because he didn’t know treatment for HIV was available

“I just started hating myself and hating other people and hating what they were saying about me and stuff like that,” said Longman.

“Because I heard that you die from it so I thought that I was dying.”

In the months leading up to his hospitalization, he’d been shunned by his loved ones, who didn’t know that HIV could only be transmitted by sharing certain bodily fluids and not, for example, by sharing a cup.

Lack of education, understanding

It’s a lack of awareness that Sanctum executive director Katelyn Roberts said is common in Saskatchewan, a province in which doctors are calling the spread of HIV an “epidemic.”

“We have people in Saskatchewan who are in their 20s and they’re dying,” she said.

“And they’re not dying because of the HIV per se, they’re dying because they haven’t engaged in health care and by the time we catch them and we get them into the appropriate setting, it’s too late.”

Read the full article.

Mental health care is key to ending AIDS

From Advocate.com

Research shows a strong correlation between mental health disorders and living with HIV or AIDS, a correlation that is often overlooked. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with HIV have an increased risk for developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders and are twice as likely to live with depression as those who do not have HIV. A 2010 U.K. study showed that one-third of HIV-positive men who participated in the survey met the criteria for a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

For those living with HIV or AIDS, depression is more than just mental hell — it can be a silent killer. Studies show that if people living with HIV feel stigmatized or suffer from mental illness, they are less likely to take their medication properly, which not only puts their own health at risk by not suppressing the individuals’ viral load, but also raises the likelihood that they will pass HIV on to others. Individuals living with HIV and depression are also more likely to think about suicide or even attempt to take their own lives.

Despite what we know about the connection between mental health and HIV/AIDS, too few people living with HIV or AIDS, and those invested in their health and happiness, are getting the mental health support they need. That is why we are proud to announce the opening of the state-of-the-art GMHC Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic, which will allow us to incorporate innovative treatment and counseling into our service model. Services will be available to adult New Yorkers of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and income levels, regardless of HIV status.

Past traumas, stress, depression, reduced self-esteem, and other challenges can be grueling to deal with. We aim to offer holistic services that address not only our clients’ mental health issues, but their social, spiritual and health concerns as well. Meanwhile, the ability to reach more HIV-negative people with HIV-preventive interventions and mental health services will help us decrease new HIV infections.

Read the full article.

Three reasons why language is important in media coverage of HIV

From the HRC… (by Diego Mora Bello, HRC Global Fellow)

Stigma and discrimination continue to be common barriers for people living with HIV. Fortunately, the media can play an important role in helping to remove these and other barriers. In my own survey of Latin American news articles mentioning HIV and AIDS, and in meeting with media professionals and advocates, I found that Latin American Media has room to improve its use of correct and destigmatizing language when talking about people living with HIV. Covering HIV both correctly and responsibly is important, because doing so is an essential part of raising awareness, debunking common myths, and giving voice to an already marginalized group of people.

The importance of using correct and responsible language in journalistic coverage of HIV inspired me to research this topic and share my findings. The ultimate goal of HIV in the Media is to report on this subject in a scientifically accurate and responsible way that inspires others to follow suit.

Based on my research, here are the top three reasons why language is important when covering HIV and AIDS in the media.

Read the full article on the HRC Website.

Let’s stop shaming black men

From the Advocate.com

Last February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report predicting that, if things don’t change, one out of every two gay or bi black men will become HIV-positive in their lifetime. This statistic has been repeated endlessly, usually in connection with reasons why HIV rates are higher among African-American men who have sex with men. To be fair, there are a wide range of factors that play a part in raising HIV risks, including poverty, drug use, childhood sexual assault, and depression.

stop-shaming-black-men“We cannot separate the high infection rates among black gay men from several ills that continue to plague our society,” Greg Millet wrote for The Advocate in 2015. “Discrimination, poverty, stigma, and lack of access to health care all affect health care utilization for black gay men. As a result, a substantial proportion of black gay men remain undiagnosed, and others who are diagnosed and without the financial means to access medications will remain virally unsuppressed.”

Many of these factors also impact heterosexual black men, so what’s at the root of the disproportionate HIV rates for their queer brothers? One prevalent argument is that — because of excessive homophobia in the black community — black gay and bisexual men have low self-esteem. That lower self-esteem leads them to be more promiscuous, engage in riskier sexual behaviors, and even use drugs; which explains why HIV rates among black men who have sex with men is so high. Makes sense? Problem is, it’s also wrong.

Read the full article on Advocate.com.

NASTAD: People living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART) do not transmit the virus

From LGBTweekley.com

nastad-300x195WASHINGTON, D.C. – NASTAD (National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors), a leading non-partisan non-profit association that represents public health officials who administer HIV and hepatitis programs in the U.S. and around the world, published a new statement affirming that durably virally suppressed people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART) do not sexually transmit the virus. The statement accelerates NASTAD’s longstanding work to end HIV and promote policies and public health practice grounded in science.

”The science is clear that people living with HIV with a sustained undetectable viral load do not transmit the virus to others. What’s also clear is that we have the tools to end the HIV epidemic and HIV-related stigma and make new infections a thing of the past. Today, we tackle a major part of this work by raising awareness about the latest science of HIV transmission risk,” remarked NASTAD Executive Director Murray Penner.

Read the full article.

New research suggest that stigma and discrimination may alter gay men’s cortisol balance resulting in stress

From PscyhCentral

New research suggest that stigma and discrimination may alter gay men’s cortisol balance resulting in stress. Moreover, black gay men, a double minority, are likely to experience more stress that white gay men.

gay men and stressInvestigators explain that research over the past two decades has shown that cortisol is a life sustaining adrenal hormone essential to maintaining the natural balance of the body. Cortisol is often referred to as “the stress hormone,” as it influences, regulates, and modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress.

New studies measure cortisol at various times during the day on a 24-hour basis to examine possible adrenal imbalances. The majority of these diurnal cortisol studies have been conducted among white heterosexuals, with very little research examining HPA-axis functioning between different minorities.

However, individuals who identify as both sexual and racial minorities may experience increased stigma and discrimination that can affect this HPA-axis functioning.

To address this need for more expansive research, investigators led by Stephanie H. Cook, DrPH, conducted a study, “Cortisol profiles differ by race/ethnicity among young sexual minority men”, examining differences in diurnal cortisol rhythm between young, self-identified, white gay men (WGM) and black gay men (BGM).

The research appears in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Read the full article.