“All the Threads of the Tapestry are Equal in Value,” Dr. Maya Angelou

By Dr. Shanell L. McGoy, Director of HIV/STD, Tennessee Department of Health

Shanell McGoy

Dr. Shanell L. McGoy

Dr. Maya Angelou’s pen was silenced earlier this year; yet her bold, brilliant, and beautifully crafted words will live forever.  Her words speak of love – self-love and love for others, resilience, and the richness of diversity.  Dr. Maya Angelou wrote, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value.”  The 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States are as richly diverse as the tapestry Dr. Angelou describes in her poignant quote.  HIV/AIDS knows no boundaries, no specific race or ethnicity, age, gender, sexual preference, education level, profession, income, or religion.  Though we know that there are well documented HIV-related disparities that exist across a variety of demographics, we can be proud of our collective progress to reduce these disparities. Continue reading

Supporting Biological and Behavioral HIV Surveillance in The Bahamas

By Rhonda Phill, Manager, Global Program, NASTAD

“If we focus where the infections are happening by geography and population we can get to control the epidemic.” Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at the 20th International AIDS Conference

The Bahamas

Map of the Bahamas

The emphasis on location and population is increasingly recognized as a critical strategy in the movement to achieve an AIDS Free Generation. However, as the World Health Organization (WHO) noted in its recently released guidelines, “health data, including HIV prevalence data, are less robust for key populations,” rendering it difficult to effectively target HIV prevention, treatment, and care efforts among those most at risk. Recognizing the critical importance of generating and using quality data to design evidence-based HIV interventions for key populations, NASTAD has collaborated with Ministries of Health throughout the Caribbean region, one of the regions hit hardest by the HIV epidemic, to build targeted response capacity. Continue reading

Raising the Bars: Addressing the HIV Care Continuum in Resource Constrained Settings

By Lucy Slater, Director, Global Program, NASTAD

Global Newsletter 1NASTAD works to bridge science, policy and public health in order to support a world free of HIV/AIDS. To this end, and in line with the U.S. National AIDS Strategy and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s (PEPFAR) mission, NASTAD is using the HIV Care Continuum framework as a tool to demonstrate need and measure progress toward increased access to and retention in medical care and ART as a primary means to prevent new HIV infections. NASTAD believes that by supporting all components of the HIV Care Continuum, we move closer toward achieving an AIDS-free generationContinue reading

NASTAD Partners With National Organizations to Encourage Gay Youth to “Speak Out” About HIV

By Carlos De Leon, Senior Associate, Health Equity and Prevention, NASTAD

Speak Out LogoEvery person carries with them a unique story that, in some manner, affects the person that they are and they embody. It is uncommon to be given a platform and adequate time to openly and honestly talk about these experiences in depth while feeling safe and comfortable in exposing our raw selves. This is especially true for sexual minorities, same gender loving men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), especially men of color within this group. Gay men/MSM continue to be the most severely affected community by HIV and Black and Latino gay men/MSM are disproportionately affected. Young gay men/MSM, aged 13 – 24, from 2008 – 2011 accounted for the greatest percentage increase (26%) in diagnosed HIV infections. In the aforementioned youth group, Blacks and Hispanic/Latinos constituted 58% and 20%, respectively, of all young gay men/MSM in 2011 infected with HIV. Black young gay men/MSM aged 13 – 24 experienced the largest increase in diagnosed HIV infections among all racial/ethnic groups. The over representation of Black and Latino gay men/MSM newly infected or living with HIV is due to numerous issues including access to health care and institutionalized stigma. Moreover, many gay men/MSM encounter unique challenges in expressing their sexuality openly and comfortably. Continue reading

How the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is Influencing Health Department Funding and Programs for Gay Men

By Erin McElderry, Associate, Prevention, NASTAD

NHPI ImageThe National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), released in 2010, is the nation’s guide towards taking measureable steps to end the HIV epidemic. It proposes a bold vision: “The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.” Within that overarching vision is a call to action to target resources towards communities disproportionately impacted by HIV—in particular gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). The NHAS stressed, “the United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men.” Continue reading