By Isaiah Webster III, Senior Manager, Health Equity/Prevention, NASTAD
In observance of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) (September 27th), NASTAD is proud to release “CONCEPTS: A Health Department Response to the HIV, STD and Viral Hepatitis Epidemics Among Gay Men/MSM in the United States.”
“CONCEPTS” is a collection of activities that state health departments are currently implementing to meet the public health challenges facing gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). The document was spearheaded by NASTAD’s Gay Men’s Health Equity Work Group, and follows the 2012 release of NASTAD’s policy statement on gay men, “Getting to Zero: Scaling-Up Health Department Strategies for Gay Men/MSM.” Health departments across the United States continue to face many challenges in addressing the epidemic among gay men/MSM, and “CONCEPTS” offers activities that could be adapted to meet the needs of these men in any region of the country.
Alarmingly, gay men/MSM continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV, STDs and viral hepatitis. Among young Black and Latino gay men/MSM, the disease burden is historically severe. To address this, health departments are taking six action steps:
- Promote health strategies that support gay men’s health equity
- Build and further strengthen the capacity of state and local health departments to address the HIV and STD crisis among gay men/MSM
- Create an integrated and coordinated response across communicable disease areas that disproportionately impact gay men/MSM
- Enhance mental health and substance abuse service capacities to respond to the unique needs of gay men/MSM
- Improve data collection systems that provide an enhanced understanding of the health, social and structural realities of gay men/MSM
- Implement comprehensive strategies and initiate advocacy efforts to better address the epidemic among gay men/MSM
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) emphasizes the need to make screening for HIV a part of routine health care; NHAS also stresses the need to reduce stigma and discrimination as barriers to care for gay men and other high-risk populations. NASTAD is working with Southern jurisdictions to increase the number of Black gay men/MSM who are tested and successfully linked to care. NASTAD’s examination of stigma in public health practice relative to Black and Latino gay men continues – building on the successful convening of a 2012 Blue Ribbon Panel and the release of Optimal Care Checklists (OCCs). Earlier this week, NASTAD was featured on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Blog discussing the need to ensure optimal care for Black and Latino gay men as the enrollment period for public health exchanges begin. And later this fall, NASTAD will convene the first-ever National Stigma Summit on Black and Latino Gay Men’s Health in Dallas, TX.
If you have questions about NASTAD’s gay men’s work, please contact Isaiah Webster III.
Visit AIDS.gov to learn more about National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) and events in your area.
We want to hear from! What strategies are you using to engage gay men around HIV in your area? Tell us by leaving a comment below.