Posts Tagged ‘stigma’

“I deal with stigma by speaking out about my experiences and being open to any questions people have about HIV even if it is no one else’s business. If a question or statement comes out offensive, I breathe first and try to hear where they are coming from before I respond. Stigma will only die off when we start listening and understanding exactly what it is that people are scared of.”

Check out the original piece here.

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12/07/2014

By Benjamin Di’Costa

IMG_0297It’s World AIDS Day, and researchers, advocates and patients are taking measure of efforts to combat the spread of HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of the estimated 1.2 million Americans who have HIV, 86 percent are aware of their status. However, just 40 percent are receiving medical care for the virus. One barrier to treatment could be the persistent stigma that many HIV-positive young people face. Here’s a relevant scene (and one that’s not uncommon in this, the Year of the Young Advocate):

World AIDS Day 2014… And here I am a  young gay male—urban, professional, culturally and politically savvy—walking down the street in the “Gayborhood” called Wilton Manors here in Fort Lauderdale. It was a beautiful day and not a cloud in sight.  in which it’s common to see men walking hand in hand to the local Starbucks, or making their way to their morning workouts when out of nowhere I hear from across the street shout, ” You are not worth life and you should die!” says the middle aged gay male.

Being a person who faced discrimination for being gay I just blew it off and kept walking down the street when another younger gay male mumbles under his breath “Dirty Faggot”. Now at this point I was taken back by this statement being that I was in a LGBT neighborhood where pretty much every lifestyle was accepted. What was it about me just walking down the street that caused such negative reactions from the community?

I look down and realize that I was wearing my No Shame in Being HIV+ Shirt from RiseUptoHIV and then it all hit me at once that this in fact had nothing to do with my sexual orientation but was solely about me wearing a shirt with HIV+ written on it? As I continue into a local Starbucks that morning and then notice the countless stares and whispers that were coming from patrons enjoying their morning cup of coffee.

Here I am a young 24 year old gay male who actually doesn’t live with HIV but I am in encountering countless acts of HIV stigma within my own community. Up until this point I had never understood what it felt like to be stigmatized and when I sat down and really reflected on what just happened a wave of emotion just hit me, I realized that at the end of the day I can take off this shirt and the stigma ends but what about those who are living with HIV? Those living with HIV don’t get to choose when the stigma comes and when it goes it is something that is commonly faced within the Gay and Bisexual community particularly minority communities.

So you may be asking, What now? Where do we go from here? 

There are many ways we can all fight HIV stigma in our lives and in our community, whether you are HIV-positive or HIV-negative:

  • Break the silence surrounding HIV stigma in our community. Talk about your experiences, fears and concerns about getting HIV or transmitting HIV with friends, a counselor, or a fuck buddy.
  • Learn how to better deal with and react when a guy tells you he has HIV.
  • Take responsibility for the prevention of HIV. The prevention of HIV is a responsibility that all gay men share – HIV-positive, HIV-negative and HIV status unknown.
  • Challenge attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that contribute to HIV stigma. Don’t be a silent witness to it when it happens around you.
  • Avoid using language that overtly stigmatizes others.
  • Treat guys with HIV as you would treat anyone else: with respect, empathy, and compassion.
  • Get informed about how to protect yourself from HIV and be confident in that knowledge. We know how to prevent HIV.
  • If you have difficulty playing safe, take charge of your sexual health and get the help you need to ensure you do not get infected with or transmit HIV.

Are there other things you can think of to fight HIV stigma?

Email Info@ThePozLife.Com or Tweet Us @ThePozLife!

And remember Positivity Is Everything! 

As of 2013, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide (1981-2012), and an estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history.So ThePoz+Life is calling for everyone to join us on November 29th at 1:00 PM EST via Google Hangout, YouTube, or ThePozLife.com for, ThePozLife: Nationwide Call to Action for World AIDS Day! For this to be successful we need you to share with your social networks, organizations and other news platforms.
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Alexandria Health Department – Photo by Todd Franson

Rainbow Tuesdays is a clinic that I started to volunteer at when I initially started working in HIV.  This clinic is every Tuesday between 5:00pm-6:30pm and offers screenings for STIs (Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis) and rapid/confirmatory testing for HIV. Hepatitis B vaccinations are also available as well. This clinic is run by gay, bisexual, queer, same gender-loving men and their allies.  I also find it amazing that the staff can also see individuals of the Trans experience!  Generally this clinic is not like others in the area (including some in DC that can get pretty crazy with line) and although it may not be directly off the metro you can navigate it by easily taking a bus, which will drop you just feet away from the Alexandria Health Department (7A or 7F from Pentagon Metro Station).

Debby Dimon, who is Nurse Supervisor at the Alexandria Health Department, oversees the Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic and provided us with some history. “Rainbow Tuesdays clinic started in July 2009 because of the Syphilis outbreak in Northern Virginia and the absence of stigma-free health care to meet the needs Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Same Gender Loving Men. It started as a screening clinic the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at Alexandria Health Department working in collaboration with the HIV prevention nonprofit organizations (Inova Juniper Program, K.I. Services, Inc. and NOVAM) with other organization serving on the Advisory Committee,” says Dimon.  Her personal goal is to provide syphilis testing and treatment for every gay/bi/queer/sgl man and Trans woman to stop the spread of the curable bacterial infection.  A special exclusive that we were able to gain was that Debby plans on providing Hep A/B/C testing in the new year!

The Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic Program is a partnership that fully engages the community to foster trust and awareness of services among of men having sex with men to encourage those at risk for HIV and/or sexually transmitted infections to seek services and refer others potentially exposed for services. If you are ever free, in the need for screening/treatment or want to know more about the Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic then stop by the Alexandria Health Department during clinic hours.

 

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Nova Salud put on another amazing event as myself and other individuals who are affected by HIV took time out of their schedules to model amazing clothes by Juan Jose Saenz-Ferreyros and his line Ferreyros Couture Company.  Thank you all who came out to give back to Nova Salud as they continue to provide excellent services to the Northern Virginia region.  Also, a huge thank you for all the sponsors and O Mansion for making this event happen.    

 

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For more information on Nova Salud click here.  

 

I am honestly excited about this project and want to see it succeed. Currently, there are no programs that discuss life living with HIV from a protagonist and their point of view.  This is something that we so desperately need to educate more individuals, break down stigma, but most importantly have something that us individuals living with HIV can related to.   Please check out http://www.unsurepositiveseries.com for more information on the project and the kickstarter campaign!

 


fc85e3031fe45518fddd2a7b49360d42_large https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jv4IoRSGvw Real HIV? Nowhere on T.V.! This series will explore many of the issues that affect HIV-positive people as they live on, and stay positive. Unsure/Positive is a Dramedy. What exactly is a Dramedy, you ask? Also known as tragicomedy, comedic drama, seriocomedy, or Unsure/Positive (the Series). Humor and Drama combined! A hybrid! The primary goal of the series is to entertain. Fair warning: we may entertain you *while* raising awareness about life with HIV. In an age of mobile devices, hookup culture, antiretroviral treatments, and the ongoing stigma that resonates with our own societal fears, Unsure/Positive offers a healthy dose of reality, honesty, and humor. You haven’t seen anything like this (because we’re still busy making it happen!) We have a fantastic cast, a baller crew, and we’re itching to get started– so much so that we already shot the first ten pages of our script on July 12th and 13th, 2014— well before securing our Kickstarter funding. The plan? To show you what you’re backing. Our sneak preview can be viewed right here: HIV is no longer a death sentence. That’s (somewhat) common knowledge… so much so that the other complications of living with the disease often get overlooked. The social stigma of an HIV-positive diagnosis is, on its own, a serious ongoing issue for “poz” persons. Unsure/Positive will explore this, and also the variety of situations– stark and mundane– that come up when human beings try to grapple with this complicated disease. With Your Help They Can:

  • Pay our professional director of photography, Ben Proulx (this is the guy in charge of the camera!)
  • Feed our cast and crew for (at least) 8 days (nom-nom!)
  • Pay our awesome, hardworking crewpeoples
  • Cover the cost of liability insurance
  • Secure a U-Haul for equipment pick-up and return
  • Buy cases of water for our set (You don’t know muggy till you’ve been in Boston in August!)
  • Buy a hard-drive on which to save all our footage
  • Buy a second hard-drive. (Just in case!)
  • Work with a professional sound mixer during post production
  • Work with a professional colorist during post production
  • And more!

Thanks in advance for supporting our project. We look forward to bringing you this brand new series very soon!


Unsure/Positive faces the challenge of combating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS– many people are reluctant to fund the project only because of the negativity associated with these acronyms. One possible risk is that this stigma will undermine our efforts to reach a wide audience. We feel this is an ongoing challenge– but you can bet we’re here to fight the good fight. While stylistically our project is a “single camera” show, much of Unsure/Positive will be shot with two cameras. This means extra crew and personnel to manage the production. Translation: it’s not cheap! (But the good stuff rarely is.) We are very much a grassroots production and support from you, our community, will help make this project a success. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, and thank you for your continued support!

 

Thank you to all the men from the R3VNG campaign (with APLA Health and Wellness).

 

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June 27th is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) and the theme for this year is “Take the Test. Take Control”. In recognition of this observance day, our Black Voices series bloggers answer the question why NHTD is important to them and what is one thing people (or organizations) can do to promote NHTD. Here is what they said:

Why is National HIV Testing Day important to you?

“This month marks my 7th year of living with HIV. I found out I was HIV positive on June 7, 2007 after receiving a positive diagnosis during an attempt to enlist into the United States Army. After I found out I was devastated, but also determined to survive and THRIVE. In order to do this, I knew I needed to manage my HIV and take control of my health. Taking this HIV test was the first step to making sure I remained healthy. Seven years later, I am still healthy with my HIV undetectable.” –Venton

“National HIV Testing Day is important to me because it’s a day that reaffirms the value of routine testing. It reopens the conversation about sexual health and risk to people in communities where either the conversation has fallen off or never been had. National HIV Testing Day becomes a marker, in the year, for many who might not otherwise engage in this type of dialogue.” – Ken

“National HIV Testing Day is important to me because it is an opportunity to know your status. With taking the test, and whatever the test results, you can take the necessary steps to educate yourself on HIV. If you are negative you can take the steps to remain negative (i.e. harm-reduction techniques and PrEP), and if you are positive you can get linked to care (with the goal of viral suppression). The day is also a perfect day to educate others on HIV and really let the community know that this is still an issue we are dealing with.” –Patrick

“NHTD is important because it provides an opportunity to put a face and voice on what HIV looks and sounds like. It’s an opportunity to continue an important conversation about our individual and collective health and wellness and the important work of eradicating stigma.” –Meico

“This day is a national coordinated effort to encourage Americans to get tested for HIV. It gives me a chance to speak with my friends and loved ones about HIV. Additionally, it allows me to support AIDS service organizations in promoting the day and amplifying their messages online.”-Anthony

What is one thing people (or organizations) can do to promote National HIV Testing Day?

“We’re all impacted (directly or indirectly) by HIV. You can help promote NHTD by sharing your story. As appropriate, send a text to your best friend. Call your mom. Chat-up one of your co-workers. Wondering how to start the conversation? Check out these great conversation starters from the CDC.” -Meico

“People and organizations can use social media and their networks to have a conversation about HIV. Ask friends, family, and colleagues if they know their HIV status and help them find a place they can get tested (using the locator.aids.gov website or application of course).” -Patrick

“Social media has been a great tool to help spread the word about the importance of National HIV Testing Day. So many people still do not know their status and it is important for people to be aware and informed about the steps they need to take in order to stay negative or, if positive, to get into care.” -Venton

“Participate. Participate. Participate. National HIV Testing Day for me is about the grassroots process of getting the education out to those who need it. You can also set the example by taking a test and sharing your experience with family members, the faith community and colleagues. It’s really about asking yourself: ‘how can I keep the conversation going?’ ” -Ken

What’s one thing you’re doing to promote National HIV Testing Day?

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/06/black-voices-bloggers-on-national-hiv-testing-day-and-social-media.html#sthash.FX8cGSwV.dpuf

BLACK VOICES: HAVING (AND USING) MY VOICE TO ADDRESS STIGMA

 

Patrick IngramMy name is Patrick, I am a gay man of color, and I currently reside in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was diagnosed with HIV at a health department in Virginia on December 1, 2011, which happened to be World AIDS Day.

Turning my life into my life’s mission

From the moment I tested positive, I have dealt with stigma and discrimination. I dealt with friends saying they wanted nothing to do with me because of my new status.  A person who I thought was my best friend said he would be there for me when I disclosed to him. That was not the case as he began to no-show on events, activities, or previous plans to spend time together.  This made me feel unwanted and pretty much like I was transformed from a best friend to a stranger in just a 72-hour period. I turned to Facebook and YouTube to learn more about HIV and find someone to talk to, but couldn’t find someone I identified with. There seemed to be a lack of HIV-positive young people of color talking about what it’s like to live with the virus, so I started my blog, PozLifeofPatrick Exit Disclaimer. I use this site to journal my life living with HIV and address other topics related to HIV, like stigma, disclosure, and dating.

In addition to my website, I am the Testing Coordinator at the rural community-based organization, Fredricksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services (FAHASS) Exit Disclaimer. Through my blog, work in prevention, and advocacy I hope to reach as many people as I can to bring more focus on HIV.

 It’s so important that we have a voice.

 Stigma and rural communities

When I started at FAHASS, I was briefed on the challenges I might face trying to recruit, educate, and provide prevention services like testing to the Black community in rural Virginia. But nothing could prepare me for the reality which was how people would react to me when they found out I was HIV+. “You don’t look sick,” was something I heard a lot. Staff working for years tell me that HIV-related stigma stops so many people, particularly in rural communities, from utilizing our services because so many people that test positive in our community don’t end up successfully linking to care.

I continue to hear that stigma prevents people from testing, disclosing their status or testing frequency, coming into our agency for prevention tools like condoms, or going to the doctor and asking for a prescription for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Also, I’ve seen how stigma can prevent individuals who are either lost to care or newly diagnosed from being successfully linked to and remaining in care.

Engaging the community where they are

We work hard to educate and empower our Black community about HIV through outreaching to local colleges, community based organizations that serve our target populations, churches, and local health fairs. We have continued to work with the community through our Community Advisory Boards, asking clients for suggestions to better our services, coming up with additional opportunities to test, and working to engage and involve more young people of color. We have a mobile testing vehicle that we can use to reach more people in our service.

 Having (and using) my voice

In my time at FAHASS I have tested and educated many young black same gender-loving men. Through our outreach and testing efforts we have tested more people who ended up being HIV positive, the majority are people like me, men under the age of 25.

As a person living with HIV, I talk to providers on what it’s really like to live with the HIV and help debunk myths or misconceptions, including information about PrEP and PEP. I also work with the providers about how to effectively work with the LGBTQ, HIV-positive, youth, Black, and Hispanic communities to provide them with the tools to meet them where they are at on a more personal level by sharing my story through my blog and videos. Because I am a part of this community, I can help normalize HIV and equip people with the knowledge to help prevent new HIV infections and get people into care.

By being so open about my status, I’ve been able to establish “roots”. Like roots on a tree, I have a strong system network of friends. Friends they now stand up for me. Friends that support me. Together we fight stigma. And they give me strength to share my voice and share my story.

We all have a voice and something to share. Will you stand alongside me? Will you share your voice? Will you help me to be part of the solution?

This article was originally from Blog.AIDS.Gov

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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!