10575284_684433221634225_7606948107668887114_oThis December 1st, it will be three years since I learned about my positive HIV status. Since then, the journey hasn’t always been easy. I have experienced successes and challenges—but I am always learning. During my days of being newly diagnosed, dealing with mental illness, contemplating suicide, and, letting others stand in the way of my true happiness, kept me from being comfortable in my own skin. After countless visits with my therapist and having better support from those around me, I decided to start the process of disclosing my status through storytelling online. Despite my own difficulties, I have chosen to be open about my status and by using new media and public speaking, I believe I am helping to fight stigma. By showing people what it looks like to live with HIV, I am using my journey to amplify the voices of others like me. (This process may not work or be appropriate for everyone.)

Disclosure

While many people choose to keep their status private, my positive HIV status is something that I openly share. Telling people that I’m HIV-positive is not the hard part–I can simply send them a text or direct them to my blog Exit Disclaimer or YouTube channel Exit Disclaimer. The most difficult part for me is waiting for their response, because that’s the time I start second guessing if I should have revealed myself in the first place. But by speaking out, I have found who Patrick Ingram is. I am proud of him and I am proud of his journey.

The journey is not easy at all because having to deal with rejection and absurd reactions from others come with the territory. I face many uphill battles of having to explain what it is like living with HIV in today’s technological age to sexual partners, friends, colleagues, family members, and other loved ones. Disclosure for me is always tricky because there is never a perfect way of doing it. The easiest way for me is to share my blog or just pose a question like, “I am HIV-positive, is that an issue with you?”

The waiting game for a written, facial, or verbal response is always the most anxious part of the entire process for me. Some have questions and some block me on social media and never speak to me again. What I have learned that if someone is not comfortable being around me because of my HIV status, then they were not mature or worthy enough to really get a chance to know who Patrick is. My newly found confidence, love for myself, and growth as an individual has helped for me to continue to live openly.

The Power of Friendship

Having friends who love and support me has been an important part of my experience of living with HIV. My relationships have renewed my faith in the power of vulnerability; because I know those relationships would not have blossomed if I were not open and honest. Once I shared my fears, it was life changing to be able to place my trust in friends who did not change the way they interacted with me. In fact, having my best friend, Davia, say she loved me and that she would be my biggest cheerleader helped me get my life back on track. It’s wonderful to be able to be who you are. My friends remind me that I am not alone. With them, I can speak freely and feel a sense of normalcy–and I know they are on my side.

A Guiding Hand

Experience has taught me that having a guiding hand is valuable not only for my own journey, but also for addressing the challenges that the Black LGBTQ community faces. I am fortunate to have many inspirational mentors in my life–from a very good friend who helps me to reflect on my experiences, to an elder letting me cry on his shoulder and vent my frustrations. Prior to becoming HIV positive, I had one mentor, Calvin who constantly checked on me and empowered me to be the best person I can be. He was one of the first people to know my positive status on December 1st (World AIDS Day) and continues to keep in touch with me to ensure that I am taking care to ensure I take the necessary steps to keep the virus in check. Calvin and my other awesome mentors in my life are amazing in ensuring the journey is less of a struggle than a hardship.

I have also recognized that the work of organizations such as the Young Black Gay Leadership InitiativeAIDS.gov, the National Minority AIDS Council’s Exit Disclaimer Youth Initiative to End HIV/ AIDS in America, National Youth HIV&AIDS Awareness Day Exit Disclaimer, and individuals in communities have provided a lot of support to gender and sexual minorities of color. For example, the Elite Project in Birmingham, Alabama Exit Disclaimer is a safe drop-in center for the LGBTQ community in an otherwise conservative southern city. This center provides prevention services, entertainment, intellectual conversations, professional and personal development, and–most important–a place to be one’s true self. Centers such as the Elite Project are needed in every community across our nation to provide the same support, friendship, and mentorship that has helped me get through.

Taking the time to reflect on my journey since learning of my status is an important part of my experience living with HIV. Over the last three years, I have learned a great deal about myself and about living with HIV. Disclosing my HIV status has been difficult at times, but the support of friends, family, and the community has been very valuable in my journey.

I hope my reflections and story can inspire others to support people they know who are living with HIV and, for those with HIV to remember that they are not alone. For now, my goals are to: continue my daily work to educate others; break down the stigma by speaking out; serve as a resource for people who are newly diagnosed; educate myself more on issues that affect the Black community; and continue to seek self-improvement.

For the original piece on AIDS.gov click here

- See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/09/three-years-of-knowing-my-positive-hiv-status.html#sthash.e4xr7zsD.dpuf

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For additional information contact:
Sarah Mitchel
Tel: 212.840.0770 Ext. 281
Email: mitchel@broadwaycares.org

PEP and PrEP. One is used as an emergency medication (PEP) and the other as a daily pill (PrEP). These two drugs have been available to the public since the FDA approved them in 2012. When used correctly they can reduce the chances of you acquiring HIV by up to 96%.

In the past 2 years those of us that work in HIV have heard many debates about these two pills. Who should take them, how effective they are, and weather or not this is a step in the right direction of creating an AIDS free generation. The public, however has not been able to gather that much information on these two pills. Due to many differences in opinion and health providers not having a general knowledge of about PEP and PrEP, most people that wish to learn more about this new prevention method or be prescribed it, have had to search for clinics that specialize in this matter. But regardless on the differences of opinion on PEP and PrEP it is imperative that we get as much information out about these two pills so the consumers can better decide if this prevention method is right for them.

Most recently the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released new materials to encourage people to find out more about PrEP and if it is something they should be using. They have a whole section on their website that give you all the information about PEP and PrEP: Whet they stand for, the difference between the two, how often you should be taking them, lists of providers and clinics, how effective it is WHEN THE PATIENT ADHERE’S TO THE MEDICATION, and information on those that provide them. After sharing this website with a few peers and co-workers, they walked away knowing a lot more about PEP and PrEP. I even learned a few new things. The website gave out the information in an easy and informative way.

They also had several new images that have been placed on posters, pamphlets, and post cards with various slogans. These images had a different reaction when I showed them to the same co-workers and peers. I then asked what they felt and why when seeing these images and if they would consider PrEP or PEP as a prevention method after seeing them. I got a wide range of opinions which I will share but first, take a look at these images and ask yourself the same question.

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find more info at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/living/prep-pep.shtml

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Check me and other HIV allies and activist out as we walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk. 

Providing Social Support to the HIV+ Men’s community since 1988, HOPEDC celebrates 26 years of service with a celebration in Arlington, Virginia on September 20th, 2014.

 

On September 20, 2014, the Health Options and Positive Energy Foundation, Inc. (HOPE DScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 2.21.40 AMC) will celebrate 26 years of bringing together the HIV+ community in Washington, DC. The celebration will be marked by a social much like the very first gathering that initiated the HOPE DC community.

In keeping with a tradition now more than two decades in the making, the HOPE DC anniversary celebration will be hosted this month by a generous foundation couple in a private home located in the Arlington, Va. Details are available upon request.

The HOPE Foundation’s informal group originated in 1988, during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, when a small group of HIV+ Men met at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital during clinical trials of life-saving treatments. They decided to bind together for mutual moral support away from the hospital and began hosting private social events throughout the district. The clinical trial is long since history, but the fellowship that they started is still going strong.

In 1996, the informal group became a non-profit 501C3 organization called The HOPE Foundation. Over the years, the group has grown to over 1400 individuals. The gatherings are now regular events called “The Monthly Social” where HIV+, and poz-friendly, gay/bi/trans/questioning men can meet and provide support for each other in the greater Washington/Baltimore area.

The group remains active today, as the need for moral and peer support for HIV+ attendees has not changed. Over the years, services and support offered by HOPE DC have proven to be essential for the health and well-being of each Social attendee. The focus of the group is primarily directed to single gay men with HIV in the Washington, DC area, but all are welcome.

“We celebrate the dramatic medical breakthroughs that have turned HIV into a manageable condition, but we are deeply aware of the Social challenges of living well and responsibly with HIV,” explained Jim Garza, Vice-President of the HOPE Foundation. “That is why, after more than 26 years, we are still here and will continue to be here as long there is a need.”

About HOPE DC 
HOPE DC is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that serves the HIV+ Community in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Services provided include the Monthly Social which offers a stress-free gathering that fosters mutual support, as well as and website to share articles, information, links and resources about living with HIV, and also occasional public seminars or lectures. we also have monthly Brunches, Bowling nights, and Day Trips. The HOPE DC philosophy is that by providing such services, they help HIV+ gay men foster a greater self-esteem and sense of community and that this in turn fosters the responsibility and behavior that helps diminish the spread of HIV.

The Group is funded by Generous Donations from Brother Help Thyself and Whitman Walker Health and has meetings and informal speaker series at the DC Center.

To learn more about HOPE DC visit http://www.hopedc.org or Like us on Facebook.

For more information about the event please visit http://www.hopedc.org.

Colleges See Gay Students as Growth Market

Posted: September 3, 2014 by thepozlife in Uncategorized

thepozlife:

Interesting piece from Time. What are your thoughts?

Originally posted on TIME:

Growing up as a fundamentalist Christian in Austin, Texas, Josh Bergeleen says he “didn’t know that gay was a thing.”

That changed when he went off to college at Emory University in Atlanta, and he came out at 18, shortly after beginning his freshman year. Four years later, Bergeleen credits Emory’s welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students as a key factor not only in his discovering his own identity, but in helping him stay on track to graduate from the business school this year.

“I wouldn’t have been able to continue if not for their support,” Bergeleen says. At one particularly rough point after coming out, Bergeleen stopped talking to his own family and says Emory’s LGBT student support office “made me feel comfortable with myself.”

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Student Josh Bergeleen

Experiences like that are important advertisements for schools that are increasingly competing to attract LGBT students. Their…

View original 943 more words

Original post from Buzzfeed.com.  Check it out here


 

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Michael Weinstein, president, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, speaks in Los Angeles, Feb. 14, 2013. Bret Hartman / AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation

 AIDS Healthcare Foundation, one of the world’s largest HIV/AIDS healthcare organizations, announced Friday it is rolling out a campaign to highlight concerns it has over the use of a daily pill for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection as a public health strategy against the spread of the virus.

The organization will run advertisements with information from studies about adherence to the pill’s daily regimen in several publications within the next week.

The pill, marketed as Truvada by Gilead Sciences, has been shown to reduce HIV infection when taken daily as directed along with using condoms and was recently recommended for populations at high risk of HIV infection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

But AHF cautions individuals who may be interested in taking PrEP, community organizations, and public health officials in government against the widespread use of the PrEP pill for HIV prevention efforts, saying people will fail to take the pill every day as directed for the drugs to work.

“The bottom line is that people won’t adhere and take the pill,” Michael Weinstein, president of AHF, told BuzzFeed. “That’s what studies have shown. If this catches on as a public health strategy, that means there are going to be people who will take Truvada irregularly and some will be infected, and some develop drug resistance.”

AHF cites studies showing that due to issues with adherence among people taking the drug in clinical trials, PrEP efficacy is about 50%, Weinstein said. Because of this, he said “a government-sanctioned widespread scale up of PrEP appears to be a public health disaster in the making.” Additionally, there is no research showing PrEP’s effectiveness as a public health strategy, he told BuzzFeed.

The AHF campaign comes just months after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s new strategy in its fight against HIV/AIDS, which includes increasing access to Truvada through the state’s Medicaid program and its own public information campaign to raise awareness about PrEP — in addition to identifying people who may not not know they’re HIV positive so that they are linked to treatment, and working to ensure that people who are HIV-positive are getting the care and treatment they need. AHF condemned Cuomo’s inclusion of PrEP in the plan.

But New York public health officials are not alone in considering PrEP as part of HIV prevention strategy.

In May, the CDC issued clinical guidelines on PrEP to prevent HIV transmission, saying that if taken daily as directed along with using condoms, it is over 90% effective in preventing HIV infection. The government health agency recommended that doctors with patients at high risk of infection should consider PrEP as part of their HIV prevention strategy, including regular HIV and STD testing and condom use. In July, the WHO announced a similar recommendation, saying men who have sex with men should consider PrEP as an additional method of preventing HIV infection. These recommendations, according to AHF, were “misguided.”

Advocates at GMHC, an HIV/AIDS healthcare and advocacy group in New York City, agreed with AHF’s point that adherence to the drug is crucial to it being effective in protecting people from HIV, but said that discouraging people to consider PrEP is problematic.

“The only disaster would be to stop encouraging people to explore taking PrEP if they are at high-risk for contracting HIV,” said Anthony Hayes, GMHC’s managing director of public affairs and policy, in a statement to BuzzFeed. “The fact is adherence is key to any drug regimen, including [antiretroviral drugs], and we are not going to tell people who are HIV-positive to stop taking ARVs because some do not practice strict adherence.”

Hayes said GMHC disagrees with the position that PrEP should not be included in public health strategies. “We believe more people should explore being on PrEP to reduce the risk of contracting HIV and it should absolutely be included in the strategy along with comprehensive education that includes emphasizing that adherence is key to effectiveness.”

Weinstein said that AHF is not alone in its reservations about PrEP, as many doctors and people in general question using it. With that, he emphasized that the conversation around PrEP has shifted from suggested it be used along with condoms to using it instead of condoms, which he said will expose people to other STDs such as syphilis, among others. People have become “cavalier” when it comes to STDs, he said.

Fewer than 10,000 prescriptions have been written for Truvada to be used as PrEP, the CDC said when it announced its recommendations. It’s price tag, at about $1,300 per month, is also a factor in access, although insurance plans cover it and there are assistance programs, such as one through Gilead.

Despite the campaign, Weinstein said AHF is not opposed to individuals and doctors considering and ultimately moving forward with using PrEP. “We don’t tell our doctors not to prescribe it or doctors in general not to prescribe it,” he said. “But as for a public health measure, you have to look at the data from the studies. This is not a question of my opinion.”

Here is the advertisement:

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AHF / Via aidshealth.org

 

 

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Ken Williams

There are a few things I want you to know about my positive experience. Whether you’ve worked in HIV for decades or are new to the epidemic, we all start somewhere. I’m a filmmaker and, ironically, my first introduction to the epidemic was through film. It was film where I started and film where I continue to this day.

Well before I became positive, my first in-depth look into the HIV epidemic was through the lens of a film called Philadelphia. For two hours I watched Tom Hanks’ character die on screen. What I took away from watching Philadelphia was that the typical HIV positive experience can be one of rejection and discrimination. It can be a stigmatized and demoralizing experience. Some people may think that your fate is considered your fault. As a person who has been living with HIV for four years, I now know this is not true.

The truth about my positive experience is that my life can often be seriously impacted by the social and physical implications of living with HIV. Almost every day, living with HIV means something different to me. Some days I feel hopeful because I take my medications and stay in care, while on other days, I feel shame because I am confronted head on by the stigma that is associated with living with HIV, leaving me feeling that I need to remain silent about my disease for fear of ridicule; the expectation that I must be dangerous because I am living with HIV. Having tested HIV positive just 4 years ago, I am still adjusting. Adjusting to how best to deal with stigma; how best to understand and manage what is happening in my body; how best to keep moving forward.

Much of this adjustment, for me, at least, is best handled by practicing optimism instead of fear. Optimism brought on by scientific advances; optimism brought on by my own personal growth and understanding of how to live a healthy life with HIV; and optimism that we are now talking about the real possibility of a generation free of HIV/AIDS. I learn daily and I listen to the outpouring of similar stories in my community and I take my meds and I live! I live despite the stigma. I live despite the fear. I share my story behind and in front of the camera and through these stories and connections I stay hopeful. I hope for an AIDS-free generation and a generation free of the stigma and fear and blame. I hope for a generation where I can continue to share my truths. My optimism drives me to want to see that generation.

What are you doing each day to bring us all to an AIDS-free generation?

- See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/08/the-truth-about-my-positive-experience.html#sthash.1A8VLl08.dpuf