Share Knowledge and Take Action: National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Michelle Allen, Associate, Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day LogoToday, NASTAD joins in the observation of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) to recognize the impact of HIV on women and girls across the country. Since 2006, this day has been observed to raise awareness and encourage communities to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The facts are clear, of the 50,000 adults and adolescents newly diagnosed with HIV in 2011, one in five was female. Among women, women of color account for nearly two-thirds of new AIDS diagnoses, and at some point in their lifetimes, 1 in 32 Black women and 1 in 106 Latinas will be diagnosed with HIV. Most of these women, roughly 86%, were infected with HIV by having condomless, heterosexual sex. Educating women, across all communities is an important piece of preventing further spread of the epidemic, and that makes this year’s theme, “Share Knowledge. Take Action,” that much more important. Continue reading

Young Black Gay Men: What Do We Need?

By Brandon Horsley-Thompson, Participant in the 2013 NASTAD Black Gay Men’s Technical Assistance Meeting

Brandon Horsely-ThompsonI came into the field of HIV prevention to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s been a long road full of deaths, fighting within the community, mismanagement, and numerous encounters with young Black gay men, who felt like their lives were not worth living. I recently attended NASTAD’s Black Gay Men’s Technical Assistance meeting, jam packed with information about the Affordable Care Act and enrollment, state based population specific HIV continuums of care for Texas and Tennessee, and new advancements in biomedical prevention – PrEP and home testing. The meeting put into context how all of these systems interplay with the health department and its constituents and provided strategies for working with Black gay men in this ever shifting landscape. However, at the beginning of the second day of the meeting, I was asked “What do you need as young Black gay man?” I sat silent for some time. What did I need? Emotionally? Mentally? Support systems? Was the facilitator talking about the collective “you,” as young Black gay men or me individually? I had never considered the question as I had gone about this work, and needless to say, I was stumped. I spoke from the heart. Continue reading

Maintaining Focus on the HIV and STD Epidemics among Gay Men – A CONCEPT from the Louisiana Department of Health

By Isaiah Webster III, Senior Manager, Health Equity/Prevention

Louisiana Wellness Center ProjectBefore there was AIDS, there was GRID or “gay-related immune deficiency.” Given the mystery and hysteria of 1982, GRID seemed like an appropriate moniker for an immune system “plague” that seemed to mostly afflict gay men. However, scientists quickly realized that GRID wasn’t a “gay plague” at all; rather it was a social disease capable of afflicting almost anyone. GRID became known as AIDS, caused by a retrovirus known as HIV – the human immunodeficiency virus.  Continue reading

Collaborating with Health Departments to Address the Needs of Native American Transgender Communities

By Lynne Greabell, Director of Member Service and Leadership Development, NASTAD

 Resources for Health Departments Working with Native American Communities

It is important for health departments that have a significant population of Native Americans to address the risk of HIV, STDs and viral hepatitis among Native transgender people. The risk for HIV infection among Native transgender people is evidenced by the fact that higher percentages of Native American GLBTQ youth report high-risk behavior among all youth, that the impacts of co-occurring factors that contribute to HIV risk such as suicides, substance use/abuse and other STDs are higher among Native Transgender people, and that 75% of HIV infections among Native American men were among men who have sex with men (MSM) in 2011.

How One Health Department is Working with the Transgender Community: A Case Study in Montana

By Laurie Kops, STD/HIV Section Supervisor, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Laurie Kops, STD/HIV Section Supervisor, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Laurie Kops, STD/HIV Section Supervisor, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

It would be fair to say that many in Montana, including those in public and private health agencies, would be quite stunned to realize the significant number of transgender, gender-nonconforming, and gender-variant individuals living in this vast state, even though we are not able to accurately quantify this demographic. As populations that are under-recognized, underserved, stigmatized and at risk for HIV and STD infection, it is imperative that support, services and understanding be generously and vigorously offered.

The Montana HIV Planning Group (HPG) has been a champion in many areas. The group has been a progressive, integrated (HIV prevention, HIV treatment, STD prevention and Hepatitis prevention) HPG for years, and has provided thoughtful consideration during the myriad of changes in HIV prevention interventions and services. In addition, HPG members have been a voice in local communities against stigma and discrimination, and, most recently, agreed that it is vital to examine the health needs of the transgender, gender-nonconforming, and gender-variant populations. Continue reading