Posts Tagged ‘NMAC’

catharsis dec. 14

 

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Catharsis: A World AIDS Day Event

Date: Monday, November 30, 2015

I am Thomas John Davis an NMAC Youth Scholar

To kick off World AIDS Day I am collaborating with The Lula Washington Dance Theater with an event entitled “Catharsis”. The goal of this event is to raise awareness around HIV & AIDS by using performance art as the ice breaker to start conversations between parents, youth, artists, and advocates about disclosure, support, getting tested, and what living with HIV is like. The event will feature professional dancers and testimonies from people living with HIV as well as their allies.

Target Audience and Importance

The doors are open to everyone but the focused group is Parents and their children. I’ve chosen to focus on these two groups in particular because that’s where the information needs to start to make a change in how we talk about HIV when it comes to prevention. Children follow what their parents know weather they are aware of it or not. To lower stigma and increase the flow of valid information into a child’s life we have to also give parents the information so they are informed and up-to-date. By having youth attend with their families we are giving them an opportunity to ask questions about what they saw and to give them information that may be updated from what their parents know. This way the child and parent are getting information together.

 

The agenda for the evening

The event will start out with a quick “what do you know about HIV?” to figure out where the audience stands. This is meant to be a brief but informative section that will transition into the first performance. The first piece is about the challenges two friends face when one of them discloses that he is HIV+. This piece will be followed by a testimony from an ally who saw a family member pass away from HIV related complications. The second piece is about a patient going to the clinic to get their labs drawn for the first time. This piece is followed by a testimony from Thomas Davis and what it was like to be told that he was HIV+ and what he did from there. The final piece is a duet followed by a testimony from a sero-discordant couple and how they navigate their relationship where HIV is concerned. After each testimony/story questions and conversations are encouraged.

                                                                                    

Why dance?

When it comes to talking about HIV we tend to find the same conversations happening over and over again and as necessary as these conversations are we need to find more innovative and engaging ways of presenting them. Using dance as a way to communicate and tell a story is a great way to educate and inspire people. You are able to escape the idea that everything you say needs to be “Politically Correct”. It’s a way for the audience to experience a story rather then having one talked at them. To show this one of the pieces being shown is filmed below. This is a story of the struggles a couple goes through when HIV is introduced into their relationship. This piece is about the anxieties of the waiting room and was used to start conversations about testing, doctors visits, support, and dating. Do you go and get tested with your partner? When was the last time you two talked about your sexual health to each other? If one of you was positive would the other stay? All these questions and many more are asked in the heads of these two individuals as they wait.

The Long Wait

Choreographed by: Thomas Davis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm6f1PhG5eo

 

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The 2014 U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) Exit Disclaimer earlier this month was the largest HIV/AIDS-related gathering in the nation. During the conference, the AIDS.gov team provided daily social media coverage Exit Disclaimer, policy updates, and technical assistance to conference participants in our social media lab.

Today, we bring you personal perspectives of the conference from Guy Anthony, Kahlib Barton, and Patrick Ingram: three bloggers from AIDS.gov’s Black Voices Blog, a bimonthly blog series written by black, gay millennials affected by HIV/AIDS. Each is a community leader is his own right, and all of them are sharing their experiences of living with HIV by using new media to amplify their voices and touch the lives of those like them.

Guy Anthony

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…we are moving in the right direction if we continue to advocate positioning ourselves at the table when it comes to issues that directly infect and affect us.”

For a USCA first-timer like me, being amongst so many passionate people, both infected and affected, was an indescribable feeling that I’ll never forget. USCA left me reeling with excitement to return to DC to “do the work.”I was incredibly inspired to hold everyone, including myself, accountable in the fight to eradicate this disease. Not just people providing direct services to clients, but agencies as a whole, executive directors, and policy-makers.

One of my favorite moments was the workshop titled “Black Gay Men: Where Are We Now? Where Do We Need to Be?” The references to black gay revolutionaries like Audre Lorde Exit Disclaimer, Essex Hemphill Exit Disclaimer, Marlon Riggs Exit Disclaimer were inspiring. I think, as a community, we are moving in the right direction if we continue to position ourselves at the table when it comes to issues that directly affect us. And what exactly does being represented at the “table” look like? A great example is Douglas Brooks, the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; President Obama appointed him to that position earlier this year. Brooks is an HIV/AIDS activist, and a gay black man who is living with HIV. He leads the Administration’s work to reduce new HIV infections, improve health outcomes for people living with HIV, and eliminate HIV health disparities in the United States.

Overall, USCA 2014 was everything I thought it’d be. The dialogue at USCA was sincere and shared a common theme that black gay men need to start taking care of themselves, for themselves.

Kahlib Barton

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I became inspired to advocate for those who are unable to do so for themselves, because so many people advocated for me when I didn’t think I could.”

USCA Exit Disclaimer, NMAC Exit Disclaimer, PrEP, PEP. Alphabet soup anyone? All of these acronyms were foreign to me about a month ago. But now I not only know what they mean, but I am inspired to learn more about HIV and how I can make a difference. Because of NMAC’s Youth Scholar program Exit Disclaimer, I was able to attend USCA for the first time this year, and it has changed my life.

Hearing personal experiences of others living with HIV, and meeting all the NMAC Youth Scholars with so many inspiring backgrounds, were my highlight moments of USCA. Meeting these inspiring individuals who were willing to help me navigate this unfamiliar world helped me to take advantage of this opportunity.

One story that particularly resonated with me was Lawrence Stallworth; he is young, the same age as I am, and has been living with the virus for as long as I have. But until I met him, the difference between us was that he did not allow his status to define him. Lawrence has already traveled across the country speaking about HIV awareness, and now serves on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

At USCA, I became inspired to advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves, because so many of the people I met advocated for me when I didn’t think I could. Before USCA I was a shy, angst-ridden, 23-year-old man living with HIV. But I turned my shyness into sufficiency and my angst into assurance. Now I feel that I am empowered and ready to make a difference in my own community. I have now joined multiple councils and organizations to be sure that my voice is heard. Most important, I use my voice as my tool to combat stigma and raise awareness for all those suffering with, or because of, this disease.

Patrick Ingram

Patrick Ingram“As I continue to grow, I realize the impact of change that takes place when I speak up…”

I was thrilled to return to USCA this year as a member of both the NMAC Youth Scholars and the USCA Steering Committee. For me, USCA is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people who are dedicated to addressing HIV.

One highlight from my time at USCA was having the opportunity to visit the University of California at San Diego’s Center for AIDS Research (CEFAR) Exit Disclaimer with my fellow NMAC Youth Scholars. I was able to learn more about the amazing work being done in the field of HIV medications and vaccines research. Visiting CEFAR has encouraged me to continue to advocate for young, gay men of color to have access to biomedical research opportunities.

As I continue to grow, I realize the impact of change that takes place when I speak up and set my mind to the task at hand. USCA has shown me that sharing my experiences and using my voice are important, and I continue to do so on my personal blog and in my work at the Virginia Department of Health. USCA 2015 will be held in Washington DC, and I am interested in how government agencies and organizations that serve those affected by HIV will employ, listen, give opportunities to lead, and implement the ideas/strategies of youth.

Did you go to USCA 2014? Share your experience in the comments below. Read more from our Black Voices bloggers here.

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/10/usca-2014-reflections-of-3-black-voices-bloggers.html#sthash.gRSS3cMJ.dpuf

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!

 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/.

 
Image  April second through the fourth saw 55 young black men from across the nation to meet in Atlanta, Georgia for the YBGLI’s second Policy and Advocacy Summit. When I confirmed to my parents that I was gay so many years ago they warned me that my life would be very difficult, and that it would be full of barriers that would require me to be the very best in everything that I do. This belief stayed within and made me believe until more recently that if I was not perfect or the best in whatever I was attempting then there was no reason trying to pursue.

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  While on my flight heading to Atlanta so many thoughts were running through my head. I really wanted to work hard to learn as much as possible and network. I am not going to lie when I felt as if the summit would be the same as any other conference, which would be information overload and maybe some opportunities to network. We all met downstairs to talk and network before walking over to the location we had our first session waiting for us. It was a great opportunity because it was a happy hour. This allowed us to begin the process to truly get to know each other. It was truly great to see old friends but have the ability to start the process of making new ones. Our first night had us at The Evolution Project. The Evolution Project is a drop-in community center for young black gay/bisexual men and transgender individuals between 18 and 28 years of age. There we got an overview of the drop-in center, listened to representatives of AID Atlanta and the state health department, and got to hear from Jose R. Rodriguez-Diaz who is the CEO of AID Atlanta. We then received a presentation on the Affordable Care Act and then had a private screening of Blackbird by Patrik-Ian Polk.

  Throughout the next day and a half we discussed health disparities, policy, advocacy, HIV prevention among Young Black Men Who Have Sex with Men (YBMSM), research, leadership, Feminism and its importance to Black Gay Men, and personal development & personal branding. The always-fantastic Testing Makes Us Stronger Team gave a presentation on their program to us before the Twitter Town Hall that will forever remain one of the most interesting experiences of my life.

On the final day, we had two very special events and both of them I will cherish for the rest of my life. We had the pleasure of having Dr. Theo Hodge, whom is a provider in DC, yet shared his story about his experiences in the district during the AIDS epidemic. Hearing him tell the stories of having clients taking HIV medications in the handfuls, the effects of AZT that were physically noticeable, and more importantly reviewing the timeline of then to here. The recording of the presentation needs to happen so it has the opportunity to play for every Young Black Gay Man (heck everyone) who is not familiar with the history of HIV. Our group truly enjoyed his charisma and his ability to convey such a serious story in a way to continue to engage us throughout our time together. Finally, the last session of the summit was one where Dr. David Malebranche, Dr. Sheldon D. Fields, Robert Miller, and Mr. Bernard Owens each gave us their stories and additional encouragement. I cannot tell you how much I saw the future me in these men. Each of them made me feel so comfortable I was able to break down my walls of protection and cry on their shoulders. I finally was able to let out my internalized stress and express my frustrations in a space where I felt as if I did not have to be either politically correct or forced to give some bullshit pageant reply like “I just want world piece.” It is truly a blessing to be in this position; however, it sometimes makes me feel extra diligent to stay on my Ps and Qs (even if that means saving those conversations for ‘kitchen table talk’). Immediately they offered their experiences and friendships and I am happy to say that post YGBLI’s Policy and Advocacy Summit we are still in contact and their words and perspectives have been invaluable. Having this opportunity would have been very difficult to achieve outside of this space.

This summit was definitely a success and far exceeded my expectations. The participants were very diverse and came from different geographical areas and professional (not just HIV). Topics were set but we had the ability to truly dissect what we were discussing, even if it transitioned off-topic for a bit. Having the ability to speak to representatives of our government agencies (CDC, HRSA, SAMHSA, and the Georgia Department of Public Health) gave us the ability to voice our concerns, thoughts, and ideas. The lack of job vacancies/internships and leadership positions, slow approval times for marketing materials, lack of funding to rural and other low socioeconomic communities that are seeing a rise in HIV, lack of cultural competency, and a vast array of others issues that were mentioned during this time period. I concern I had was that many of the representatives on the panel were white and only two members participating were Black. This is a perfect reminder that we need to have more opportunities to have Young Black Men Who Have Sex with Men (to include those who are HIV-positive) to fill these seats in the future to ensure that decisions made for us are created by and come from us. A huge shout-out though goes to Mr. Harold Phillips of HRSA who saw a need to address our questions due to the lack of time/ability of those reps on the panel to answer them. He graciously volunteered his own time to say back lack from 12am-1am to answer any of the questions he could. During this time, our awesome Organizing Committee Members took who concerns down and later brought them up with Douglas Brooks, the New Director Imageof the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). Feeling as if we had a voice was very empowering. Having that experience has and will continue to ensure engage my government on concerning issues.

The Policy and Advocacy Summit allowed for the formation of new relationships and partnership .It was like a beginning of a new brotherhood. From my end, there were phenomenal conversations and I cannot wait to announce fantastic news in the coming weeks! Addressing surviving as an YBMSM professional, leadership, and more importantly branding made me look at myself and analyze ways I can still to this day continue to seek self-improvement. This summit created a space where we could exchange stories, ideas, experiences, and more importantly continued support for one another. To this day, I am still in contact with many of my new friends and colleagues as we check in or support each other through the struggles of being an YBMSM in a society that has serious issues accepting us as social norms.

Coming to a close of the summit Daniel Driffin, Chair of the Organizing Committee for YBGLI said something that we all took back to our homes, careers, and everyday lives. This was that our voice does matter, no matter where we were, no matter how hard the struggle was, and no matter how muchImage we felt like our voices were unheard. This can seem very frustrating at jobs or ASOs where our advice or knowledge isn’t used; we continue to be disenfranchised; we deal with disrespect or ignorance from Cisgender white men (even gay) who do not truly understand the struggles and barriers of being a young Black Man who loves Men. These men still face a huge war within our own communities, to include mainstream society. His words really were soothing and helped to bury anger and resentment I had from some of those situations. In the end, I truly hope that this summit continues and wish that many more could take place across the country. If we can get more YBMSMs to go through a program like this, our community would see an increase in advocacy, activism, enlightenment, and progression toward more solidarity.

 

A very special thank you goes out to NGBMAC, NASTAD, The City of Atlanta, AID Atlanta, The Evolution Project, Testing Makes Us Stronger, Sphere Lab, The Red Door Foundation, Inc., AIDS.gov, Gilead, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Georgia Department of Health, Impulse Group, AHF, Hudson Grille, Patrik-Ian Polk, HRC, Broadway Cares, Levi Strauss Foundation, Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel, Summit Faculty, OC Members, and more importantly the participants for making this event happen.  For more information check out www.ybgli.org

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Save the Date! 

Community Educational Training on PrEP April 22nd!

The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) will host a community education training on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) this April 22, 2014 from 9am-4:30pm at Washington, DC’s DENIM. We’ll provide the most current and accurate information about PrEP, its efficacy, and how it can be an important tool to help young gay men stay HIV-negative. As new infections continue to rise among young gay men of color, we’ll discuss the unique opportunity PrEP presents for young gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men. These trainings will also allow participants to engage with PrEP educational videos and cultivate skills to better implement and/or replicate the educational videos for a particular community.

Topics covered in the training include:

  • Interacial_Gay_Couple.jpgCurrent landscape of HIV for young gay men
  • Biomedical HIV prevention
  • PrEP, access, and the Affordable Care Act
  • Comprehensive prevention
  • PrEP risk and benefits
  • Health literacy for both providers and patients
  • PrEP and stigma

Location: DENIM
6925 Blair Road, NW
Washington, DC  20012
http://www.uhupil.org/denim

Click here to RSVP! 

ImageSo I know many of you have wondered where I’ve been.  Well, after a year phenomenal year of amazing events and opportunities that has opened up for PozLifeofPatrick and me.  These opportunities would not have happened without others seeing my potential and giving me a chance.

On December 18, 2012 I created the blog to chronicle my life living with HIV and to provide opportunities for others to lend their voices.  Being open with my status allows me to help educate others, break down stigma, and break the silence that so many of my positive brothers and sisters live in. Many living with HIV lay in silence because of the fear of stigma and discrimination based off of their status.  I have worked very hard and seen success in my mission to decrease stigma and increase understanding around this virus that affects so many.  On the other end of the very sharp double-edged sword I continue to see a lack of understanding and openness to HIV, even more prevalent in my dating life.   Call me strange or too young for love, but throughout this year I helplessly made myself vulnerable in an effort to try to find a significant person to be in my life.  As I approach a 2014 I can report and say that at this moment in time I am very much single; however, my priorities have changed.

Image  By being able to start my new career in the non-profit sector is where everything started.  I was able to interact with many individuals through community HIV outreach, education, and testing.  Also, working with NMAC with their Youth Initiative to End HIV/AIDS in America, and its HIV-positive Leadership Working Group of their National HIV Health Literacy and Wellness Initiative.  This year I was also given the opportunity featured alongside another fabulous HIV advocate, Guy Anthony on Blackmenrise.org where we talk about in more detail about our lives.  Through NMAC’s Youth Initiative I was able to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana for USCA 2013.   There I learned more about HIV and those who are affected by it, networked with so many different individuals and organizations, moderated a discussion on storytelling and HIV, made new allies/friends, and overall took away an amazing invaluable and indescribable experience.

Image            Throughout this year I was also able to be brought on as the Testing Coordinator to The Fredericksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services (FAHASS) where with the help of a dedicated prevention team helped to test, diagnose, and link more individuals to care then we ever have.  With being given a special grant called CAPUS, we will be able to reach more affected populations to educate, test, and link any individual who is HIV-positive into care.

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Also, I was featured alongside other youth in an MTV Staying Alive Documentary, “My Sex Life and Everyone Else’s.”  This

documentary may not have been rainbows and butterflies for me, but it gives me a stage to continue the dialogue of what it is like to live with HIV and deal with the struggle to get out of the stages of grief and guilt.  Looking back now I can honestly say that I am light years away from that time period in my life.

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           Other highlights of my year was running The Marine Corps Marathon and Anthem Richmond Marathon back-to-back, and helping to raise almost $20,000 for The Grassroots Project’s Team Grassroots.  Also, working with ACCESS AIDS in the Hampton Roads region to help further the discussion that needed to take place to people of color.

            There are many things that I can rant on about but I already feel like folks may think that I am being narcissistic; however, this is more about showing people that if I can do this in one year then why can’t you, a community, or a nation.  I have said it before but I am serious about making pozlifeofpatrick more about others in 2014.  I started the process of having my live show, PozLifeLive, where I bring on others to share their stories, experiences, and work for the world.  Also, by opening up my blog up for others to share it gives the opportunity to have an even greater experience when you visit my website or channel. Image

As a student who is majoring in Sociocultural Anthropology, I can attest that I have read many ethnographic studies and sat through numerous lectures that support the argument that human cooperation fuels productivity and community development.  When people work together to establish a community, a majority of the time positive outcomes are achieved and goals are met.

We see more and more developing communities out there to promote positive behavior change in efforts to increase HIV prevention.  Can it work and is it working?  Let’s take a look.

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“It takes a village…” is a long old saying that you probably hear from your grandparents and parents today.  And yes, although it may be cliché to say, it is totally true!  Community-based organizations (CBOs) are in place for peoples to come together to achieve a common goal.  Let’s take a look at the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC).  NMAC is one of the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS advocacy groups that is dedicated towards helping minority groups gain access to HIV treatment and prevent HIV to those who are uninfected by increasing access to testing.  Let’s look at one of their programs in particular: The Youth Initiative to End HIV/AIDS in America Scholars Program.  This program hosts about 30 youth scholars per year to attend the U.S. States Conference on AIDS to increase their personal awareness about the pandemic and learn how to combat the pandemic in their own community with tools learned at the conference.   At the end of the conference, the scholars are expected to report back to NMAC every several weeks about their progress to help “End HIV/AIDS in America.”  This program is near and dear to my heart, as for I was selected as a 2013 Youth Scholar.  I am in constant contact with my fellow scholars as for we brainstorm new ideas and share networking opportunities to get involved with community-based organizations to ultimately help end the pandemic.  NMAC has created a community for us, which gives us the opportunities, and networks needed to create positive behavior change and increase HIV prevention.

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Left to Right: Victor Yang and myself at the U.S. Conference on AIDS in New Orleans, LA, September 2013

Our lab has conducted a study, called the Harnessing Online Peer Education (HOPE) study, in Peru last year to increase HIV prevention.  What is significant about the study is our creation of “peer leaders.”  These peer leaders were used to educate on HIV prevention and mentor the participants—who were also African American and/or Latino MSM.  Peer leaders had experience with community and social media outreach.  Peer leaders were trained on discussion and role playing exercises to integrate basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS, awareness of sociocultural HIV/AIDS issues in the age of technology, and communication methods for effective, interactive social media-based HIV prevention.

But mind you, there was no established social hierarchy.  That’s why we had the same population, just different responsibilities of each subpopulation (participants and peer leaders).  In this way, we created a community for MSM to promote healthy sexual behaviors amongst one another.

On the flip side, when we think of a community, is there always a positive connotation linked to it?  Not necessarily.  For example, what if a young fresh-out-the-closet young gay man from the Midwest (where the homosexual community isn’t the most prevalent) came to an urban center (L.A., New York, Atlanta, etc.) and joined the community of young gay men there.  We need to realize that the gay community in big urban centers has a high prevalence rate of substance abuse and HIV.  So in this case, would him joining the community be a positive thing?  No.  He would be very likely to try to fit in with the community and therefore be exposed to these negative behaviors.  How can we create more positive communities for the LGBTQ population?

What are your thoughts on community building and HIV prevention?  What does your CBO do to build communities?  Let us know by tweeting us @DigitalHBX or sending us a Facebook message at www.facebook.com/digiitalhbx

Derek Hernandez is an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles, with a major in Sociocultural Anthropology.  He is a Research Assistant at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine where he studies the behavioral aspects of HIV-positive men and researches new implementations of HIV prophylaxis via social media.  Derek is passionate about the dynamics of LGBTQ Healthcare and ensuring accessibility and retention of care for patients, especially HIV/AIDS patients.  He is notably proud for holding two Student Intern positions at UCLA Health System and currently at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he works alongside physicians and nurses to ensure patient safety and adherence to quality measures.  Derek plans to ultimately earn his Doctorate in Nursing Practice Degree and purse a career an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

Interested in guest blogging for Pozlifeofpatrick.com?  Send me an email at pozlifeofpatrick@gmail.com

So this summer is as busy as ever with my work (both paid and not). I have been doing outreach to educate people on HIV, testing and counseling, creating new blog material, completing filming for an upcoming project, being involved with the fantastic Edugaytion show, wrapping up my Associates Degree, starting classes for my undergrad degree in Public Health, and raising money and training for the Grassroots Project running the Full Marine Corps Marathon.

For the first time ever I will be attending The United States Conference on AIDS, which will be taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana. I will be going as a youth scholar for this phenomenal experience. I am extremely blessed and appreciative of the opportunity The National Minority AIDS Council and its staff have given me. During this event I look forward to networking, learning, sharing experiences, and gaining more knowledge about HIV/AIDS that can be taken back to my community. Looking back two years ago I would have never thought to be leaving a very good paying job and lifestyle to be doing what I love, which is doing work in a community that needs help, education on the epidemic of HIV, and overall support.

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On September 7th fresh off a 5k, I will board a plane and fly out of the DC area and head toward the conference to represent my community, youth, people of color, people living with HIV, and most importantly *you*. It is very excited to have opportunities ranging from a workshop on sexual health education as HIV prevention; a panel discussion I will be moderating on using storytelling using media and cultural arts; a workshop on strategizing and mobilizing to end the epidemic; a session on PrEP; and a round table assembly for people living with HIV.

  While I am in New Orleans the plan is to keep you up-to-date on everything. Please keep up with me by following me on Instagram and Twitter as PluslifeofPatrick and The Pozlifeofpatrick Facebook page. These will be the sources I will be sending updates, thoughts, and experiences of  USCA.

  If you will also be at the U.S. Conference on AIDS please speak to me because I would love to interact with you all. Interested in USCA? Check out http://nmac.org/events/2013-u-s-conference-on-aids/

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My chat with blackmenrise.org was amazing to discuss his experience coming out and learning he is HIV-positive. I also share about my support system and how I made it this far as a successful, young, Black, Gay man.