Join NAPWA (and me) For Free

Infected/Affected by HIV/AIDS?

Join the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA). NAPWA is doing amazing work advocating for people HIV infected- and affected. It’s important that they have people from rural areas in their membership, so if you are HIV+ and live in Montana (or other rural areas) I would encourage you to join. From their mission statement:

Founded as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 1983, NAPWA advocates for the lives and dignity of all people living with HIV/AIDS, especially the more than a million Americans who live with it today. We want the epidemic to end, and we want life to be better for people with HIV until it does.

They are offering- for the first time ever- a free one year membership. To join me as a NAPWA member, click here:  http://www.napwa.org/freemembership

Most HIV-Positive Americans Lack Regular Medical Care

English: Enterprise Performance Life Cycle

English: Enterprise Performance Life Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Betsy McKay of the Wall Street Journal comes this from the recently concluded International AIDS  Conference in Washington DC:

HIV Data (1990, 2000, 2010)

HIV Data (1990, 2000, 2010) (Photo credit: cmdelaserna)

More than half of the people diagnosed with the HIV virus in the U.S. aren’t getting treatment for their infection, the U.S government said (Friday).

African-Americans and younger people are least likely to be receiving regular treatment, meaning that programs to keep them under a doctor’s care aren’t working or aren’t plentiful enough, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While 81% of those African Americans estimated to be infected are diagnosed, only 29% get ongoing care, and just 21% are “virally suppressed,” or have their virus controlled by a regular regimen of antiretroviral, or ARV, drugs. Among Americans ages 25 to 34, 72% of those infected are diagnosed, but 28% get care and a mere 15% are virally suppressed.

Overall, an estimated 1.1 million Americans are infected with HIV. Only 46% of those who are diagnosed with HIV get regular treatment, while a quarter of all those estimated to be infected are virally suppressed.

“We’ve got to do better,” says Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

The data were released at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

The challenge is to find ways to make HIV testing more widespread, and then make it easier to link those who are diagnosed directly into care — and to make sure they stay there, says Mermin.  “I want to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” he says.

And therein lies the challenge. The easy choice is sometimes pretending the choices don’t even exist….

Read the rest here. 

English: IPSF HIV/AIDS Campaign Logo

English: IPSF HIV/AIDS Campaign Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Alaska Lt. Governor Files To Change Driver’s Licenses To Include Gender Identity

Some good news out of Alaska:

Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell has filed a new regulation that governs changes to driver’s licenses and will allow transgender individuals to correct the gender marker on their licenses without undergoing major surgery. The regulation takes effect August 11. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alaska had challenged the surgery requirement as a violation of an individual’s right to privacy.

“We appreciate the work of the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Lt. Governor’s office in crafting a regulation that recognizes the important and legitimate needs of transgender Alaskans,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska. “All Alaskans must be able to obtain a driver’s license that accurately reflects their gender and avoids disclosure of sensitive personal information unrelated to their ability to safely drive a motor vehicle. The government should never needlessly intrude into mandating specific medical procedures.”

The ACLU filed its challenge on behalf of a transgender woman, K.L., whose United States passport and work documents all identify her as female. After initially securing a change to the gender on her driver’s license, she was told that her new license would be revoked unless she submitted proof of having surgery.

“I am humbled and grateful for this decision,” said K.L. “It is my prayer that this victory will make a difference in the lives of transgender people.”

Many transgender persons are treated for a condition called gender dysphoria. Although the American Psychiatric Association agrees that surgery is medically necessary treatment for some, it is not required for everyone with the condition. Treatment for gender dysphoria varies from individual to individual, and many can be effectively treated without surgery.

Additionally, such surgery is beyond the means of many people and is potentially dangerous for some individuals. The State Department no longer requires transgender people to have surgery before it will correct the gender marker on passports, and a growing number of states have stopped requiring surgery for changing the gender marker on a driver’s license.

“The previous requirement had nothing to do with accepted medical standards and demonstrated a callous lack of understanding of what it means to be transgender,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “The government should not be in the business of dictating anyone’s medical care, especially when it comes to requiring surgery that may not be available, desired, or medically necessary.”

More information on this case can be found at: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/kl-v-state-alaska-department-administration-division-motor-vehicles

ADAP Watch 7.19.12

From NAPWA:

The Administration has pledged new money to end the waiting lists, but they will linger for some time. Making sure that everyone who needs ART drugs can get them is an obvious first step towards ending this country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, but when the waiting lists are gone, we’ll have to move on to the hard work of changing attitudes towards people with HIV and ensuring access to health care for all Americans, not just those living with HIV.

It was grimly entertaining, explaining to Conference delegates from Canada and Germany what ADAP is and why we have waiting lists, when it’s so obviously better public health policy and so obviously more fiscally prudent to treat everyone with HIV who wants treatment. After she got past her initial disbelief, a German delegate gently suggested that there are better ways to handle this sort of thing. We wouldn’t need ADAPs, let alone have ADAP waiting lists, if we had a rationally designed national health care system.

Here are the latest numbers from our friends at NASTAD:

HIV In Prison

FYI:

  • More than 2 million people are incarcerated in jails and prisons in the United States.
  • People who are incarcerated are at increased risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV.
  • The correctional setting is often the first place incarcerated men and women are diagnosed with HIV and provided treatment.

People who are incarcerated are at increased risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV and other infections. Correctional health, public health, and community-based organizations need to improve HIV prevention and care for incarcerated populations through 1) routine HIV screening and voluntary HIV testing within prisons and jails and 2) other effective prevention strategies, including those that address inmates’ transition back into the community. Correctional institutions can be important partners in preventing and treating HIV to protect and improve inmate and community health.

More here.

New Scooby Mix: Turn Up The Kiki!


The new Scooby mix is here- and it’s great! I was rocking out to it yesterday at the office….

Check it out at: http://djscoobynyc.blogspot.com/

Download mp3 file via Mediafire: http://www.mediafire.com/?ak47byvhw4a492u

Download song-by-song: http://www.mediafire.com/?e3nm4hyozy32m

Listen via Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/djscoobynyc/turn-up-the-kiki-2012-a

Turn up the Kiki!

Let’s Talk About Sex

“Sex Is the Question,” is an engaging and important survey regarding the sexual practices of gay and bisexual men. This entirely confidential survey is sponsored by the Center for Disease Control, and will be used by state and local health departments to better understand the HIV epidemic among gay and bisexual men and potentially create new techniques to reverse the trend. “Sex Is the Question” is the largest survey ever attempted by a US federal agency for gay and bisexual men, and it will only take you a few minutes to complete. Do you want another great reason to take the survey? For every completed survey, “Sex Is the Question” will make a monetary donation to the It Gets Better Project.

How can you take the survey? Just click on this link. After you complete the survey, you will also have the opportunity to invite your friends to participate, and a donation will be made to the It Gets Better Project for each of your friends who completes the survey too. In addition, “Sex is the Question” is not just a survey. It is the first study of its kind to provide immediate feedback to its participants by incorporating videos and other interactive tools. At the end of the survey, you will be presented with personalized insight and comparisons based on your answers. Thank you for your consideration! With you support, we can help put an end to HIV once and for all, and in doing so, support a terrific organization.

Olympic Rings Inspire Artist To Illustrate Inequality

Need some help visualizing global issues? Here’s an amazing idea:

Oceania: blue. Europe: black. Americas: red. Africa: yellow. Asia: green.

 

Powerful. Also illustrations for homicide, obesity, military spending and billionaires. Click graphic for source and story.

 

 

Gay Men’s Wives, Homophobia and HIV

(click for source)

Discrimination and homophobia are often more prevalent in rural areas. Outreach workers in Montana know that there are certainly barriers for men to being tested for HIV. One of the most significant is the fear of being harshly judged, labelled and dismissed. It’s one of the reasons some gay/bi men get married to women and start families- they want to be ‘normal’- even though they already are. The sense of shame and guilt can be overpowering- and it’s adding fuel to the fire as far as HIV is concerned.

Rural outreach workers have known this for years- it may be one of the reasons that HIV is spreading so rapidly in the south. It’s almost certainly one of the reasons that HIV is spreading in the African American population. But we haven’t paid much attention- at least scientifically- to this issue. Now it looks as if science is actually catching up to reality. From The Sobering Truth About HIV Among MSM by Gregory Trotter, Chicago AIDS Foundation blog (July 25):

The idea of “turning the tide” against the AIDS epidemic will prove to be no more than a slogan if more is not done to address the growing number of gay/bisexual men infected with HIV worldwide, experts said today.

Speaking at an afternoon press conference today, a panel of experts presented new research – recently published in a series in the medical journal, The Lancet – that confronted the reality of HIV prevalence among MSM (men who have sex with me).  The series concluded that, in addition to medical and scientific advances, more must be done to eradicate the cultural and societal impediments of homophobia and discrimination. Until that happens, ending the AIDS epidemic is unlikely, said Chris Beyrer, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (emphasis mine)

We routinely encounter discrimination in dealing with MSM in Montana- some of whom do not openly identify as gay. In fact, some are married- with children- and do not plan on leaving their families. But they’re having sex with other men- and some are not using condoms with their wives. “If I did, she’d know I was having sex with someone else,” one client told me.

The fear of being exposed for these men is great. One man told me, “I can’t afford to be seen as gay. It would kill me- it would kill my wife.”  Shame from society, churches and social groups abut being gay have forced men to create false lives. But they haven’t stopped sexual behavior. This type of internalized shame is not uncommon here- and the wives of these men could be put at risk as a result.

Shame, homophobia and discrimination are fueling the epidemic- so are apathy and denial (see my essay Gay Men Are Flunking The Test). Part of me wonders when we’re going to start seeing a rise in HIV infection among rural women- the wives of gay/bi men. Back to Mr Trotter:

On average, MSM are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population in low- and middle-class countries, according to Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS.

Many African countries do not accurately report numbers of MSM and some do not even acknowledge they have MSM among their population, said Paul Semugoma,  Uganda physician who serves on the steering committee for the Global Forum on MSM &HIV (MSMGF).

Homophobia is rampant in such countries, he said.

“If we don’t start solving these impediments for MSM, we’re not going to do much about the epidemic,” Semugoma said.

In a recent study in Jamaica, 82% of Jamaicans self-identified as homophobic, largely out of fear of HIV prevalence among gay/bi men, said Maurice Tomlinson, legal advisor on marginalized groups for AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy group.

Such homophobia has engendered a climate where gay men are afraid to buy condoms for themselves, Tomlinson said. Their female friends often buy condoms for them, he said, but refuse to buy lube, as that would imply a female “deficiency.”

And so many gay/bisexual Jamaicans use petroleum jelly, saliva or even hairspray as a lubricant, he said.

“In those cases, it would be better if they used nothing at all,” Tomlinson said.

To learn more about how HIV affects MSM throughout the world and possible solutions to problem, read the full series in The Lancet titled HIV in Men Who Have Sex with Men.”