How Black Gay Men Are Taking a Lead in the Fight against HIV

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

White House ONAP Director, Douglas M. Brooks, with Blake Rowley.

White House ONAP Director, Douglas M. Brooks, with Blake Rowley.

The health disparities faced by Black gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have become one of the most salient issues of the day. A number of issue briefs, memoranda, and speeches addressing the State of the Black Gay Union have stated the importance of this issue; however, far less has been done to address the issues this community faces or empower key stakeholders. The Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative (YBGLI) is a national coalition of young Black gay, bisexual, same gender loving men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) from around the country addressing issues disproportionately affecting their peers, especially HIV prevention, care and treatment. Additionally, the YBGLI seeks to build and cultivate young leaders within the Black gay community, creating space for more young Black gay men to take the torch when the time comes and continue the fight against HIV. Further, YBGLI seeks to develop the capacity and knowledge of the larger young Black gay male community. Continue reading

How Health Departments Are Addressing the Viral Hepatitis Epidemic in the U.S.

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

Maria Courogen

Maria Courogen, Washington State AIDS Director, speaking at the launch of the updated Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.

In my role in Washington State, I oversee the state health department’s work in the areas of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tuberculosis and viral hepatitis. In my role as a member of NASTAD’s Executive Committee and Chair-Elect, I work with state health department colleagues across the country, many of whom have a similar portfolio of work, to provide leadership in the country’s response to HIV and hepatitis. As such, On April 3, I participated in an event hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the release of the next iteration of the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.

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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