Posts Tagged ‘HIV prevention’

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Right now it’s about 5:47AM here in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area and I am just sitting on my balcony having a cup of my favorite Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee reading some news and blogs before I get the day started.  Besides Kim K. Breaking The Internet..Soft Core Porn Photos, Protests from Ferguson, or how President Obama is ruining our country. I then stumble upon an article that shows how a Coffee Ceremony has become the new HIV Prevention method in Ethiopia and was surprised at how effective it has become.

It is 11:00 a.m. at the antiretroviral therapy (ART) unit of Gandhi Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Women have been arriving slowly over the last two hours for their monthly coffee ceremony discussion. The reception area is transformed—condoms and pamphlets swept off the table to make way for a colorful tablecloth and a bowl of flowers. Popcorn is popping, coffee brewing, and the aromas of coffee, popcorn, and incense mingle in the air. Smiles appear on the women’s faces as they enter the room and rekindle their monthly friendships

As the coffee ceremony participants begin to seat themselves in a large circle, laughter erupts on the far side of the room. Two women share their story with the others.

One woman ran into her neighbor at the hospital this morning and the neighbor asked, “Oh, why are you here?” The first woman did not hesitate to reply that she was visiting a friend who was sick. When she asked her neighbor why she was at the hospital, the neighbor quickly gave the same response. Thirty minutes later, both women found themselves seated at the coffee ceremony. They laughed as they spotted each other from across the circle; one comments that now they will be real friends and not just neighbors! Their story became an ideal introduction to the group’s discussion on stigma and the lies people tell, without hesitation, to their own neighbors and family members to avoid the shame and discrimination of living with HIV in Ethiopian society.

Over the next few hours, they drink coffee, listen, and discuss their experiences as a counselor leads them through the agenda. The program does not use a specific facilitator’s curriculum, but the counselors from PCI and the hospitals have been trained and develop the topics themselves, setting topics in advance. The topics, as always, cover ART adherence, nutrition, and opportunities for producing food at home. Other topics are added based on current events and issues noticed along the way, as well as a variety of issues raised by the women themselves. Many women linger afterwards, building friendships and sharing stories about how they cope with the challenges of living with HIV

After reading this article it really began to set a persepctive for me on how we have it so wrong in our society. So many times instead of meeting people living with HIV where they’re atwe tend to treat HIV+ individuals as numbers or a deliverable so we can get a raise when evaluation time comes around. But even something as simple as having a cup of coffee and conversation shows that it can create a lasting bond thats supersedes any prevention program or training that we as providers have previously been accustomed to. So next time you’re speaking to a friend, peer, or client why not sit down over a cup of coffee and get to know the person behind the number.

 

Remember Positivity Is Everything,

Benjamin

Article By Kara GreenBlott Via AIDSStarOne

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PEP and PrEP. One is used as an emergency medication (PEP) and the other as a daily pill (PrEP). These two drugs have been available to the public since the FDA approved them in 2012. When used correctly they can reduce the chances of you acquiring HIV by up to 96%.

In the past 2 years those of us that work in HIV have heard many debates about these two pills. Who should take them, how effective they are, and weather or not this is a step in the right direction of creating an AIDS free generation. The public, however has not been able to gather that much information on these two pills. Due to many differences in opinion and health providers not having a general knowledge of about PEP and PrEP, most people that wish to learn more about this new prevention method or be prescribed it, have had to search for clinics that specialize in this matter. But regardless on the differences of opinion on PEP and PrEP it is imperative that we get as much information out about these two pills so the consumers can better decide if this prevention method is right for them.

Most recently the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released new materials to encourage people to find out more about PrEP and if it is something they should be using. They have a whole section on their website that give you all the information about PEP and PrEP: Whet they stand for, the difference between the two, how often you should be taking them, lists of providers and clinics, how effective it is WHEN THE PATIENT ADHERE’S TO THE MEDICATION, and information on those that provide them. After sharing this website with a few peers and co-workers, they walked away knowing a lot more about PEP and PrEP. I even learned a few new things. The website gave out the information in an easy and informative way.

They also had several new images that have been placed on posters, pamphlets, and post cards with various slogans. These images had a different reaction when I showed them to the same co-workers and peers. I then asked what they felt and why when seeing these images and if they would consider PrEP or PEP as a prevention method after seeing them. I got a wide range of opinions which I will share but first, take a look at these images and ask yourself the same question.

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find more info at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/living/prep-pep.shtml

Providing Social Support to the HIV+ Men’s community since 1988, HOPEDC celebrates 26 years of service with a celebration in Arlington, Virginia on September 20th, 2014.

 

On September 20, 2014, the Health Options and Positive Energy Foundation, Inc. (HOPE DScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 2.21.40 AMC) will celebrate 26 years of bringing together the HIV+ community in Washington, DC. The celebration will be marked by a social much like the very first gathering that initiated the HOPE DC community.

In keeping with a tradition now more than two decades in the making, the HOPE DC anniversary celebration will be hosted this month by a generous foundation couple in a private home located in the Arlington, Va. Details are available upon request.

The HOPE Foundation’s informal group originated in 1988, during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, when a small group of HIV+ Men met at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital during clinical trials of life-saving treatments. They decided to bind together for mutual moral support away from the hospital and began hosting private social events throughout the district. The clinical trial is long since history, but the fellowship that they started is still going strong.

In 1996, the informal group became a non-profit 501C3 organization called The HOPE Foundation. Over the years, the group has grown to over 1400 individuals. The gatherings are now regular events called “The Monthly Social” where HIV+, and poz-friendly, gay/bi/trans/questioning men can meet and provide support for each other in the greater Washington/Baltimore area.

The group remains active today, as the need for moral and peer support for HIV+ attendees has not changed. Over the years, services and support offered by HOPE DC have proven to be essential for the health and well-being of each Social attendee. The focus of the group is primarily directed to single gay men with HIV in the Washington, DC area, but all are welcome.

“We celebrate the dramatic medical breakthroughs that have turned HIV into a manageable condition, but we are deeply aware of the Social challenges of living well and responsibly with HIV,” explained Jim Garza, Vice-President of the HOPE Foundation. “That is why, after more than 26 years, we are still here and will continue to be here as long there is a need.”

About HOPE DC 
HOPE DC is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that serves the HIV+ Community in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Services provided include the Monthly Social which offers a stress-free gathering that fosters mutual support, as well as and website to share articles, information, links and resources about living with HIV, and also occasional public seminars or lectures. we also have monthly Brunches, Bowling nights, and Day Trips. The HOPE DC philosophy is that by providing such services, they help HIV+ gay men foster a greater self-esteem and sense of community and that this in turn fosters the responsibility and behavior that helps diminish the spread of HIV.

The Group is funded by Generous Donations from Brother Help Thyself and Whitman Walker Health and has meetings and informal speaker series at the DC Center.

To learn more about HOPE DC visit http://www.hopedc.org or Like us on Facebook.

For more information about the event please visit http://www.hopedc.org.

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Ken Williams

There are a few things I want you to know about my positive experience. Whether you’ve worked in HIV for decades or are new to the epidemic, we all start somewhere. I’m a filmmaker and, ironically, my first introduction to the epidemic was through film. It was film where I started and film where I continue to this day.

Well before I became positive, my first in-depth look into the HIV epidemic was through the lens of a film called Philadelphia. For two hours I watched Tom Hanks’ character die on screen. What I took away from watching Philadelphia was that the typical HIV positive experience can be one of rejection and discrimination. It can be a stigmatized and demoralizing experience. Some people may think that your fate is considered your fault. As a person who has been living with HIV for four years, I now know this is not true.

The truth about my positive experience is that my life can often be seriously impacted by the social and physical implications of living with HIV. Almost every day, living with HIV means something different to me. Some days I feel hopeful because I take my medications and stay in care, while on other days, I feel shame because I am confronted head on by the stigma that is associated with living with HIV, leaving me feeling that I need to remain silent about my disease for fear of ridicule; the expectation that I must be dangerous because I am living with HIV. Having tested HIV positive just 4 years ago, I am still adjusting. Adjusting to how best to deal with stigma; how best to understand and manage what is happening in my body; how best to keep moving forward.

Much of this adjustment, for me, at least, is best handled by practicing optimism instead of fear. Optimism brought on by scientific advances; optimism brought on by my own personal growth and understanding of how to live a healthy life with HIV; and optimism that we are now talking about the real possibility of a generation free of HIV/AIDS. I learn daily and I listen to the outpouring of similar stories in my community and I take my meds and I live! I live despite the stigma. I live despite the fear. I share my story behind and in front of the camera and through these stories and connections I stay hopeful. I hope for an AIDS-free generation and a generation free of the stigma and fear and blame. I hope for a generation where I can continue to share my truths. My optimism drives me to want to see that generation.

What are you doing each day to bring us all to an AIDS-free generation?

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/08/the-truth-about-my-positive-experience.html#sthash.1A8VLl08.dpuf

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.42.20 PMWe are so excited that Patrick Ingram was listed as one of the 20 amazing HIV-Positive Gay men of 2014.  Patrick continues to do great work in the community to advocate, educate, and empower young people. He definitely works tirelessly to ensure that the LGBTQ community of color is represented at any table he is sitting at.  Congratulations Patrick on your great year so far.  The Poz+ Life is going in the right direction and we cannot wait to show you more of what we have in the works. Stay Tuned!


Below is pulled from HIV Plus Magazine's article on Patrick Ingram.  Check here for the 
digital edition.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.41.39 PMAfter he attended the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative’s 2014 Policy and Advocacy Summit earlier this year, blogger Patrick Ingram says he realized just how much pressure there is to act as if living with HIV is easy.

“The reality is, it is not yellow brick roads and rainbows,” he says. “Dating, making new friends, and even making new professional relationships are tough because of the fact that I am openly HIV-positive and gay. I do think, though, that I am finally free and at ease with my sexuality and HIV status and am hardly affected by those who do not want to deal with me because of their inability to address the HIV-related stigma within them.”

That straightforwardness has made the 25-year-old Ingram, who by day works as a health counselor for the Virginia Department of Health in Alexandria, a voice to be listened to. His popular blog on TheBody.com (ThePozLife.com, which he crafts with two other young black men) began in 2012 so he could “vent and share my journey of coming to terms with my HIV diagnosis. While doing this I also offered support and a listening ear to others.”

While it’s garnered the young man a legion of fans — especially young men of color so used to being underheard in the HIV discussion — he says he never sees himself as a role model. “Because I am not perfect but just simply human,” he says. “I never want to be placed in a situation where others look up to me; however, I want people to look at how I took my life changing moment and become empowered by it to take charge of their lives and any barrier they may be facing.”

He spends plenty of time on his blog educating people on treatment as prevention, what it means to be undetectable, PrEP, and why resiliency and mental strength are cornerstones of good health.

As more young people like himself speak openly about what it really is like living or being with someone with HIV, people may stop looking at the virus as “something that is not from a person who is dirty, irresponsible, or even dangerous,” he says. “HIV affects us all, regardless of things like socioeconomic status, significant others, family, friends, and education on the virus.”

Still, Ingram admits that one of his biggest concerns is the need for HIV-positive gay men to feel empowered and worthy. He meets plenty of men who “do not think they are good enough and therefore have to settle. In other situations they feel defeated and therefore do not feel like fighting to ensure they can get their medications, see their providers, have a second opinion, disclose their status to a sexual partner, and even stand up and address incorrect facts or lack of education among their peers. As HIV-postive individuals as a whole, we must know that our voice matters and that we are worth it.”

For the article click here
Don’t forget to check out more about our bloggers here

Last month, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy hosted the much-anticipated meeting on HIV in the Southern United States. Federal stakeholders, policy makers, national and regional venton-e1396560969818advocates were in attendance to outline the current state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the South and identify solutions for reducing the impact of HIV in this region of the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the South has the highest number of people who are becoming infected and the majority of the people who are living with HIV in the South are people of color. During this important meeting, I had the opportunity to share my perspective as a person from the South living with HIV and also share recommendations for addressing the existing challenges around eradicating HIV in the South.

I am originally from Dallas, Texas. I grew up with a passion for health care as most of my family were involved in various aspects of health-care service and delivery. After obtaining my Bachelor of Science in Community Health from Texas A&M University in 2006, I moved back to my hometown to start my career in public health. I then completed my Master of Science in Healthcare Administration. My primary area of interest was health disparities and understanding its impact within communities of color. This led me towards an interest in HIV/AIDS and its disproportionate impact on Black gay men and men of other races who have sex with men (MSM). Early on in my career, I realized the stigma and fear that was associated around addressing the needs of this population.

During my time in Dallas, I was involved with a number of local and state-level HIV groups, including the Texas HIV/STD Community Planning Group. One of my first jobs in HIV prevention was working with United Black Ellument Exit Disclaimer. This project, funded by the University of California’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, aimed to adapt the Mpowerment HIV prevention Exit Disclaimer intervention for young, Black, gay and bi-sexual men, between the ages of 18-29. Throughout my work, a major challenge I faced while living in the South was around getting health systems to understand the unique social and structural challenges that act as barriers to effective HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts within populations of Black gay men and other MSM. These include, but are not limited to: racism, homophobia, lack of culturally competent service delivery and a lack of Black gay men in leadership positions throughout the community, HIV/AIDS organizations and government.

This part of the country is directly in the cross-hairs of challenges that persistently contribute to increased HIV infection rates and low rates of viral suppression. I believe in order to get the HIV/AIDS epidemic under control in the United States and ultimately, to move to an AIDS-free generation, we must continue our intentional focus on the issues facing Black MSM.

How are you focusing your efforts on those issue facing Black MSM? People in the South?

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/07/black-voices-independence-from-hiv.html#sthash.PD0u8gjU.dpuf

  So let us face it, there are many pros and cons when it comes to collaboration; however, to continue the winning war against HIV&AIDS it is essential to our victory. When communication and opposing visions clash, it creates an environment where every time you correspond with one another it is like walking on ice. Communication is essential to the success of any relationship and if there is a not a system to ensure everyone at the table has a way of knowing what is going on (including being able to provide feedback on changes) then all hell will break loose.

  There is an unseen benefit to this because when done correctly and in a manner that is consistent collaborations can be very useful. Apart of the Northern Virginia HIV Consortium Prevention and Education Committee is a perfect example. Nechelle Terrell, Chair of the committee has shared with me that this creates an opportunity for many organizations to work together across their service areas and jurisdictions. Like many community-based organizations across the nation, we are seeing a decrease in available resources. The prevention and education committee utilizes its members to ensure that events have the ability to have additional support from other agencies. In addition, successful best practices and experiences help to ensure organizations struggling to meet certain populations or communities where they are at have some assistance. Resources and talents to better meet the needs of a community (or even audience) are shared and work together to achieve a common goal.

  As the creator and only person behind Pozlifeofpatrick, I hit a roadblock a year after operation. I was working full-time, going to school full-time, and then taking on more blogging and traveling request than normal. The blog ended up being more of an object of stress in my life. This changed I met two other amazing guys at the Young Black Gay Leadership Initiative’s (YBGLI) 2014 Policy and Advocacy Summit where we agreed to combine our blogging, video, and social media skills into one to create something new. The creation of ThePozLife has received great response from the community. We share responsibilities, which give me the ability to focus more on school and work, but most importantly, we are bringing our specific personalities, skills, and attributes together in our partnership rather than competing for the same or similar audiences. This solidarity and ability to work together shows something that we have forgotten about.

   When the Normal Heart came on TV, I sat up and watched every minute of it. Like that movie, How to Survive a Plague and IMG_9249_1even Paris is Burning they all had one common denominator. They were able to work together for a common mission. Today we must be able to place our egos aside and focus on the work for the good of progressing and eventually winning this war against HIV. When we continue to have opposing ideologies about PrEP, HIV Criminalization, and what organizations are not doing we are only hurting ourselves. We must be able to come together in solidarity and work towards a common goal.  On top of working as a team we must be able to have each other’s back and not be willing to let injustice happy to our fellow brothers in sisters who are also trying to make a difference in our communities.   Now our paths to the goal may be in different forms like demonstrations, policy, blogging, education, and prevention however we all must be at least somewhere on the same page.

 

 

Yours in the struggle,

Patrick R.  Ingram

“Throughout my tenure at FAHASS we have had phenomenal successes within our prevention department. We worked hard to receive funding through CAPUS, increased efficiency, seeing more diversity, increasing our visibility through HIV education and testing, creating and beginning the early implementation of our mobile testing and outreach initiative, and most importantly identifying more individuals living with HIV. Through focused outreach methods we are able to locate and confirm HIV-positive diagnosis so that we can successfully begin our linkage to care.

When I was diagnosed with HIV in 2011 my interactions and process through testing and actual linkage to care was the absolute most difficult and humiliating experience of my life. My current and long-term goals continue to encompass work toward all gender, racial, and MSM minorities who are affected by STIs (including HIV). I want to work to ensure quality, treatment, care, and more options for individuals throughout the continuum regardless of socioeconomic status and barriers. I have accepted a position with the Virginia Department of Health working in Northern Virginia as a Health Educator. I will continue to focus on increased cultural competence, sexual/health education, and utilizing the prevention tool-belt to help reduce the chances of individuals being infected with HIV.

As one of the first individuals many in our community will come across I am extremely grateful and blessed to be able to have the opportunity to support, educate, link, empower, and most importantly work to decrease STI infections among the most affected areas in our community. I will work hard to ensure my transition out will be smooth and seamless. I have valued the relationships I have made and grown while here at FAHASS and hope they will continue upon my departure. The work in our rural community is difficult; however, just know that it does not go unnoticed. Thank you for your commitment to working with individuals affected by HIV in our service area and beyond.” – Patrick Ingram

Great work by Venton Jones and the Aids.gov team! Check out http://blog.aids.gov/2014/04/swallow-a-pill-for-hiv-prevention.html for more information