How Meaningful Community Engagement Can Help End HIV

By Maria Courogen, Director, Office of Infectious Disease, Washington State Department of Health

Maria Courogen, Washington State Department of Health

Maria Courogen, Washington State Department of Health

As I began my tenure as NASTAD’s chair in May 2014, I was reminded of the great work that my immediate predecessors, Dawn Fukuda—Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health—and Randy Mayer—Chief of the Bureau of HIV, STD and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health—led during their time at the helm. It was a privilege to serve as an officer during both of their terms, as Randy created conversation regarding HIV criminalization and Dawn discussed the transformative power of the Affordable Care Act in the fight against HIV. The themes and work that resulted have pushed us further toward our shared mission of raising the bars as we strive to reach the goals laid out by the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy across all of our jurisdictions, for all populations. Continue reading

When the Silence is Not Our Own: Facing Invisibility as Black, Queer, and Trans

By Shaan Michael Wade, Intern, Communications, NASTAD

In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) and Black History Month, NASTAD created a blog series to highlight voices within the Black community which often may remain silent, go unheard and are currently bearing the burden of the HIV epidemic: Black gay men/MSM, young Black gay men/MSM, members of the Black transgender community and Black women. We hope this blog series will serve as a springboard for even richer conversations and bring true awareness to National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The previous blog posts in the series can be found below: 

In 1977, Audre Lorde posited that our silence will not protect us. While the silence is slowly coming to an end for some, for others it is overwhelming. The silence we endure is not always our own. As a Black female-to-male transgender person—or trans man—who has sex with cisgender (non-transgender) men, I am often rendered invisible by the miseducation of my peers, professionals and society.

In 2013, I moved to Washington, D.C., a city that consistently ranks as one of the top five impacted by the domestic HIV epidemic. Until a close friend became positive, I had never questioned my own risk of infection. Despite the social desexualization of transgender men, I had a very active sex life. Can I actually become infected with HIV? Continue reading

Interview: My Life as a Young, Black, Gay Man Impacted by HIV in the South

By Darion Banister, NASTAD Youth Ambassador

Darion BanisterIn recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) and Black History Month, NASTAD created a blog series to highlight voices within the Black community which often may remain silent, go unheard and are currently bearing the burden of the HIV epidemic: Black gay men/MSM, young Black gay men/MSM, members of the Black transgender community and Black women. We hope this blog series will serve as a springboard for even richer conversations and bring true awareness to National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The previous blog posts in the series can be found below: 

In my experience working with young people there exist a different form of bias called adultism. When I learned about this term it resounded in me because not only have I been guilty of it, but I have also experienced it in my life and continue to hear the stories from NASTAD Youth Ambassadors on this issue. Adultism is the disrespect of the young, consideration of young people being less important to adults, dismissal of youth issues, and exclusion of young people as decision makers. Incorporating youth in all steps of youth programming is key for success. NASTAD Youth Ambassadors serve as leaders in their respective communities who are doing innovative work to improve the well-being of other gay men. In order to serve our youth to help meet their needs, the NASTAD Youth Ambassadors program seeks to facilitate new opportunities for young gay men to partner with health departments. For this blog series, and thinking about overlooked voices, we consulted Darion Banister, a NASTAD Youth Ambassador about his experience living in the Southern region of the United States as a young, Black, gay man.  Continue reading

Young. Black. Gay. Why I “Speak Out” against HIV and Stigma

By Devin Hursey, NASTAD Youth Ambassador

Devin HurseyIn recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) and Black History Month, NASTAD created a blog series to highlight voices within the Black community which often may remain silent, go unheard and are currently bearing the burden of the HIV epidemic: Black gay men/MSM, young Black gay men/MSM, members of the Black transgender community and Black women. We hope this blog series will serve as a springboard for even richer conversations and bring true awareness to National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The previous blog posts in the series can be found below:

Silence, according to my childhood pastor, was always regarded as golden; resting on the idea that through silence one learns discipline and obedience, true pillars of a good Christian. I remember this message being preached from the pulpit, bellowed by my beloved pastor to the people in the congregation, my community. Continue reading

I Have My Protection—And It’s Not a Condom

By Blake Rowley, Manager, Health Equity & Prevention, NASTAD

Originally published by The Black AIDS Institute

Blake Rowley

Blake Rowley

Like most other Black men, I have had extremely inconsistent engagement with healthcare. If I’m not sick, why go? Until recently, the only time I really cared to access any type of care was when I was getting tested for HIV and other STIs.

In 2012, while conducting research at Fenway Health, I learned that multiple studies were trying to assess how effective taking one pill, once a day, would be at preventing HIV infection. My colleagues and I would joke about taking this pill once it became available, if it was successful. And then “BOOM,” there it was—a one-a-day pill that could prevent HIV by close to 100 percent. Continue reading