Posts Tagged ‘LGBTQ’

We are so excited that Adrian C. decided to join ThePozLife.  This took place at USCA in Patricks room as he asked for Thomas and Adrian C. to come so that we all could chat.  After inviting and having Adrian so graciously agree to come on board Patrick asked him if he ever wanted to share his story.  Adrian at 12am pacific time responded, “how about now?”  Hours later after interviewing, talking and sharing experiences the film was completed and the team worked hard to prepare for the debut of Adrian Castellanos.  Well without further delay we want to share with you his story.

3v4wylje“I’ve decided to share my story because it’s time HIV positive folks began living sin verguenza. Without shame or fear. I feel that an important aspect of ending this pandemic is engaging in dialogue. I hope that my story will get people talking and educating themselves. Knowledge is power and in this case it will be the end of the virus. I am excited to be a part of ThePozLife.com because I will be putting a face, along with my new colleagues, to the epidemic. We are bringing the issue of HIV out of the shadows, and facing it head on. I am happy that we are creating a space for people like us, people of color, to be comfortable enough to talk about HIV and AIDS. I never really thought of myself as an activist, but the moment I heard that I am positive I knew I had to get moving.” – Adrian C.

You can find more information about ThePozLife Crew here!

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IMG_1223We would like to welcome Adrian Castellanos to ThePozLife!  Thomas and I were blown away by Adrian’s drive, ambition, determination, and advocacy efforts at USCA 2014 and we found it necessary to bring him onboard.  We feel as if he will be a great voice for the Latino community, youth and individuals affected by HIV.  For more information on Adrian check him out here.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and agreed to join alongside us in our goal to spread awareness and decrease stigma.

-Patrick

 The Poz+ Life is proud to have Patrick, Thomas, friends, cohorts, and most importantly friends selected to attend the 2014 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) in San Diego, California.  Thomas and Patrick will be providing live social media conversations , blogging and videos during and after the conference.  
HIV disproportionately impacts America’s young people, especially young gay and bisexual men of color. Approximately 25% of all new infections occur in youth and between 2007 and 2010, there was a 22% increase among gay men aged 13–24. NMAC’s Youth initiative, sponsored by ViiV Healthcare, the Magic Johnson Foundation and Advocates for Youth aims to assist youth in becoming more effective and informed health advocates, and empowering them to become more active in their communities.Hundreds of applicants between the ages of 18 – 25 applied to participate in our 2014 program, including the opportunity to further their leadership in the field of HIV/AIDS as well as attend the 2014 United States Conference on AIDS in San Diego, CA, from Oct. 2 – 5.

Participants will take part in various events throughout 2014, from webinars to conference calls, to help further develop their skills and knowledge and prepare them to lead efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their communities and across the country. NMAC is thrilled hat it can continue to offer this exciting initiative and to introduce you to the selected participants. For more than 25 years, NMAC has worked to develop leadership in communities of color to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and is proud to have the opportunity to help develop the skills of a new generation of leaders

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The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) is very pleased to announce it has selected the Youth Scholars for NMAC’s Youth Initiative to End HIV in America. The eight-month Youth Initiative program is sponsored by NMAC in collaboration with ViiV HealthcareAdvocates for Youth, and the Magic Johnson Foundation and will provide opportunities for the scholars to develop leadership skills, increase knowledge, build confidence, and integrate youth in HIV/AIDS programs and policies.

Learn more about our scholars online here!  http://nmac.org/youth-scholars/

NMAC received and reviewed hundreds of applications through a competitive selection process. A Youth Advisory Committee worked with our Treatment Education Adherence Mobilization (TEAM) and Conferences & Meeting Services (CMS) divisions to select the 2014 recipients. We are incredibly proud to have a diverse, talented, and dynamic group of young leaders to participate in the Initiative.

With its focus on developing leadership among youth to end HIV in America, the skills the youth leaders will develop during the U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) will help drive the next generation of leaders in HIV. Through education and training, these individuals will develop the necessary tools to have a significant impact on the current and future landscape of HIV. Following the conference, the scholars will have the opportunity to share their skills with individuals in their own communities and through best practices, continue active participation in the HIV movement.

If you would like to learn more about the incredible group of Youth Scholars, you can view their pictures and bios on our website at: http://nmac.org/youth-scholars/.

10575284_684433221634225_7606948107668887114_oThis December 1st, it will be three years since I learned about my positive HIV status. Since then, the journey hasn’t always been easy. I have experienced successes and challenges—but I am always learning. During my days of being newly diagnosed, dealing with mental illness, contemplating suicide, and, letting others stand in the way of my true happiness, kept me from being comfortable in my own skin. After countless visits with my therapist and having better support from those around me, I decided to start the process of disclosing my status through storytelling online. Despite my own difficulties, I have chosen to be open about my status and by using new media and public speaking, I believe I am helping to fight stigma. By showing people what it looks like to live with HIV, I am using my journey to amplify the voices of others like me. (This process may not work or be appropriate for everyone.)

Disclosure

While many people choose to keep their status private, my positive HIV status is something that I openly share. Telling people that I’m HIV-positive is not the hard part–I can simply send them a text or direct them to my blog Exit Disclaimer or YouTube channel Exit Disclaimer. The most difficult part for me is waiting for their response, because that’s the time I start second guessing if I should have revealed myself in the first place. But by speaking out, I have found who Patrick Ingram is. I am proud of him and I am proud of his journey.

The journey is not easy at all because having to deal with rejection and absurd reactions from others come with the territory. I face many uphill battles of having to explain what it is like living with HIV in today’s technological age to sexual partners, friends, colleagues, family members, and other loved ones. Disclosure for me is always tricky because there is never a perfect way of doing it. The easiest way for me is to share my blog or just pose a question like, “I am HIV-positive, is that an issue with you?”

The waiting game for a written, facial, or verbal response is always the most anxious part of the entire process for me. Some have questions and some block me on social media and never speak to me again. What I have learned that if someone is not comfortable being around me because of my HIV status, then they were not mature or worthy enough to really get a chance to know who Patrick is. My newly found confidence, love for myself, and growth as an individual has helped for me to continue to live openly.

The Power of Friendship

Having friends who love and support me has been an important part of my experience of living with HIV. My relationships have renewed my faith in the power of vulnerability; because I know those relationships would not have blossomed if I were not open and honest. Once I shared my fears, it was life changing to be able to place my trust in friends who did not change the way they interacted with me. In fact, having my best friend, Davia, say she loved me and that she would be my biggest cheerleader helped me get my life back on track. It’s wonderful to be able to be who you are. My friends remind me that I am not alone. With them, I can speak freely and feel a sense of normalcy–and I know they are on my side.

A Guiding Hand

Experience has taught me that having a guiding hand is valuable not only for my own journey, but also for addressing the challenges that the Black LGBTQ community faces. I am fortunate to have many inspirational mentors in my life–from a very good friend who helps me to reflect on my experiences, to an elder letting me cry on his shoulder and vent my frustrations. Prior to becoming HIV positive, I had one mentor, Calvin who constantly checked on me and empowered me to be the best person I can be. He was one of the first people to know my positive status on December 1st (World AIDS Day) and continues to keep in touch with me to ensure that I am taking care to ensure I take the necessary steps to keep the virus in check. Calvin and my other awesome mentors in my life are amazing in ensuring the journey is less of a struggle than a hardship.

I have also recognized that the work of organizations such as the Young Black Gay Leadership InitiativeAIDS.gov, the National Minority AIDS Council’s Exit Disclaimer Youth Initiative to End HIV/ AIDS in America, National Youth HIV&AIDS Awareness Day Exit Disclaimer, and individuals in communities have provided a lot of support to gender and sexual minorities of color. For example, the Elite Project in Birmingham, Alabama Exit Disclaimer is a safe drop-in center for the LGBTQ community in an otherwise conservative southern city. This center provides prevention services, entertainment, intellectual conversations, professional and personal development, and–most important–a place to be one’s true self. Centers such as the Elite Project are needed in every community across our nation to provide the same support, friendship, and mentorship that has helped me get through.

Taking the time to reflect on my journey since learning of my status is an important part of my experience living with HIV. Over the last three years, I have learned a great deal about myself and about living with HIV. Disclosing my HIV status has been difficult at times, but the support of friends, family, and the community has been very valuable in my journey.

I hope my reflections and story can inspire others to support people they know who are living with HIV and, for those with HIV to remember that they are not alone. For now, my goals are to: continue my daily work to educate others; break down the stigma by speaking out; serve as a resource for people who are newly diagnosed; educate myself more on issues that affect the Black community; and continue to seek self-improvement.

For the original piece on AIDS.gov click here

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/09/three-years-of-knowing-my-positive-hiv-status.html#sthash.e4xr7zsD.dpuf

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Original post from Buzzfeed.com.  Check it out here


 

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Michael Weinstein, president, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, speaks in Los Angeles, Feb. 14, 2013. Bret Hartman / AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation

 AIDS Healthcare Foundation, one of the world’s largest HIV/AIDS healthcare organizations, announced Friday it is rolling out a campaign to highlight concerns it has over the use of a daily pill for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection as a public health strategy against the spread of the virus.

The organization will run advertisements with information from studies about adherence to the pill’s daily regimen in several publications within the next week.

The pill, marketed as Truvada by Gilead Sciences, has been shown to reduce HIV infection when taken daily as directed along with using condoms and was recently recommended for populations at high risk of HIV infection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

But AHF cautions individuals who may be interested in taking PrEP, community organizations, and public health officials in government against the widespread use of the PrEP pill for HIV prevention efforts, saying people will fail to take the pill every day as directed for the drugs to work.

“The bottom line is that people won’t adhere and take the pill,” Michael Weinstein, president of AHF, told BuzzFeed. “That’s what studies have shown. If this catches on as a public health strategy, that means there are going to be people who will take Truvada irregularly and some will be infected, and some develop drug resistance.”

AHF cites studies showing that due to issues with adherence among people taking the drug in clinical trials, PrEP efficacy is about 50%, Weinstein said. Because of this, he said “a government-sanctioned widespread scale up of PrEP appears to be a public health disaster in the making.” Additionally, there is no research showing PrEP’s effectiveness as a public health strategy, he told BuzzFeed.

The AHF campaign comes just months after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s new strategy in its fight against HIV/AIDS, which includes increasing access to Truvada through the state’s Medicaid program and its own public information campaign to raise awareness about PrEP — in addition to identifying people who may not not know they’re HIV positive so that they are linked to treatment, and working to ensure that people who are HIV-positive are getting the care and treatment they need. AHF condemned Cuomo’s inclusion of PrEP in the plan.

But New York public health officials are not alone in considering PrEP as part of HIV prevention strategy.

In May, the CDC issued clinical guidelines on PrEP to prevent HIV transmission, saying that if taken daily as directed along with using condoms, it is over 90% effective in preventing HIV infection. The government health agency recommended that doctors with patients at high risk of infection should consider PrEP as part of their HIV prevention strategy, including regular HIV and STD testing and condom use. In July, the WHO announced a similar recommendation, saying men who have sex with men should consider PrEP as an additional method of preventing HIV infection. These recommendations, according to AHF, were “misguided.”

Advocates at GMHC, an HIV/AIDS healthcare and advocacy group in New York City, agreed with AHF’s point that adherence to the drug is crucial to it being effective in protecting people from HIV, but said that discouraging people to consider PrEP is problematic.

“The only disaster would be to stop encouraging people to explore taking PrEP if they are at high-risk for contracting HIV,” said Anthony Hayes, GMHC’s managing director of public affairs and policy, in a statement to BuzzFeed. “The fact is adherence is key to any drug regimen, including [antiretroviral drugs], and we are not going to tell people who are HIV-positive to stop taking ARVs because some do not practice strict adherence.”

Hayes said GMHC disagrees with the position that PrEP should not be included in public health strategies. “We believe more people should explore being on PrEP to reduce the risk of contracting HIV and it should absolutely be included in the strategy along with comprehensive education that includes emphasizing that adherence is key to effectiveness.”

Weinstein said that AHF is not alone in its reservations about PrEP, as many doctors and people in general question using it. With that, he emphasized that the conversation around PrEP has shifted from suggested it be used along with condoms to using it instead of condoms, which he said will expose people to other STDs such as syphilis, among others. People have become “cavalier” when it comes to STDs, he said.

Fewer than 10,000 prescriptions have been written for Truvada to be used as PrEP, the CDC said when it announced its recommendations. It’s price tag, at about $1,300 per month, is also a factor in access, although insurance plans cover it and there are assistance programs, such as one through Gilead.

Despite the campaign, Weinstein said AHF is not opposed to individuals and doctors considering and ultimately moving forward with using PrEP. “We don’t tell our doctors not to prescribe it or doctors in general not to prescribe it,” he said. “But as for a public health measure, you have to look at the data from the studies. This is not a question of my opinion.”

Here is the advertisement:

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AHF / Via aidshealth.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

IMG_4992I attended the 4th Annual ADAP Leadership Awards in Wasington D.C., and accepted the award for Social Media Campaign of the Year.  It was truly an honor  being in the room with individuals from all over who do fantastic work.  The experience motivated me to keep on with the work and know that it is meaningful.  Thank you so much again ADAP Advocacy Association Staff, Board Members, and Attendees for the experience!  The awards was in conjunction with the associations 7th Annual Conference.

IMG_4993We at The Poz+ Life love your support and feedback and continue to be motivated to continue the empowerment of others who are affected by HIV and other inequalities.  This is definitely just the beginning.  Thank you!

 

-Patrick Ingram (The Poz+ Life)Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 12.51.16 PM