Ending the HIV Epidemic: Culturally Attuned Educational Materials for American Indians/Alaska Natives

From HIV.gov….

As one of several Indian Health Service activities supported by the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund (MHAF) in Fiscal Year 2020, the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) is currently leading a project focused on creating  culturally attuned HIV education materials—including print, digital, and video formats—for both American Indian and Alaska Native patients and the healthcare providers who serve them.

UIHI , located in Seattle, Washington, works to provide information to and assist urban Indian-serving organizations to better the urban Indian community’s health nationwide. Seven out of 10 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently live in urban settings away from federally defined tribal lands. Since 2016, UIHI has led several projects that promote culturally attuned HIV prevention and treatment.

Among the new materials being developed under this project, in March 2020, UIHI released a short film, Positively Native , in which long-time HIV survivors Bill Hall (Tlingit), Shana Cozad (Kiowa), and Hamen Ides (Lummi) discuss their lived experiences with HIV stigma, discrimination, and advocacy. Along with the film, UIHI released an accompanying toolkit that includes a facilitator’s guide, discussion questions, and a presentation on the basics of HIV. The organization presented Positively Native to an audience of 38 people at the International Indigenous Pre-Conference on HIV/AIDS in July 2020.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Documentary 5B shows the real heroes of the AIDS epidemic

From People.com

This was a time when people weren’t even touching patients with HIV,” says Priyanka Chopra, a prominent supporter of the film on behalf of the AIDS charity RED, which will receive 30 percent of all box office proceeds. “They would lay in their soiled bedsheets for days where nobody would come and even enter their room to feed them. At that time, these nurses chose to not think about whether they would live or die and actually the nobility of the profession is what you see in this movie.”

The film, which received a four-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival last month, features the nurses of ward 5B at San Francisco General Hospital who didn’t allow societal ignorance, prejudice and fear curtail their drive to administer compassionate health care to patients who had otherwise been cast aside. These were patients who most health care professionals wouldn’t touch without wearing gloves, even a hazmat suit.

Read the full article.

 

First living HIV-positive organ donor wants to lift ‘the shroud of HIV related stigma’

From NPR online

Nina Martinez just became the world’s first living HIV-positive organ donor.

In a medical breakthrough, surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital late last month successfully transplanted one of her kidneys to a recipient who is also HIV positive.

“I feel wonderful,” Martinez, 35, said in an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, 11 days into her recovery. The patient who received her kidney has chosen to remain anonymous, but is doing well, Martinez is told.

Nina Martinez and her surgeon, Dr. Dorry Segev

“They’re doing wonderfully and they got an organ they desperately needed to get and that’s all I could ask for,” Martinez said.

HIV advocates are celebrating the achievement as an important step towards lifting the stigma around a disease that affects some 1.1 million Americans. In 2017, an estimated 18 patients died each day while waiting for an organ transplant. Many of these deaths involved HIV positive patients who have traditionally had access to a much smaller pool of potential organ donors.

Read the full article on NPR.com.

HRC: The Black & African American LGBTQ Youth Report

From the Human Rights Campaign...

In 2017, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation partnered with researchers at the University of Connecticut to conduct a groundbreaking survey of over 12,000 LGBTQ youth and capture their experiences in their families, schools, social circles and communities. More than 1,600 Black and African American LGBTQ youth responded to the survey.

This resource presents data collected from these youth, shedding light on their challenges and triumphs encountered while navigating multiple, intersecting identities. This report utilizes the full sample (any respondent who answered more than 10 percent of the survey) and provides more detail than is captured in the 2018 Youth Report.

Find out more.

HIV isn’t just a gay issue, it’s a ‘social justice issue’

Writer and activist George M. Johnson instructs us, on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, on the role we all play in the  

George M. Johnson

The late activist and writer Joseph Beam once deemed the act of a Black man loving another Black man a “revolutionary act.” I imagine that doing so, while also living unapologetically with HIV, is doubly insurgent. But that’s perhaps the only way to describe the life and work of George M. Johnson. A writer, activist, and soon-to-be author, he’s committed to the work of toppling the patriarchy, challenging anti-Blackness, and confronting homophobia, transphobia, and HIV stigma wherever he sees it.

With over 40,000 Twitter followers and a much larger community that reads his words at Teen Vogue,Entertainment Tonight, The RootEbony, and countless others, Johnson is outspoken and defiantly visible as a Black gay man living with HIV, with which he was diagnosed at 25. Now, he’s set on being the resource he wishes he had when he was younger for other folks who are or might become HIV positive.

On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Out spoke to Johnson about his activism, the state of HIV advocacy, and what those living with the virus and those not can do to combat stigma.

Read the full article/interview here.

It’s not just HIV stigma – sexism, racism and poverty stigma commonly reported by women living with HIV in the United States

From aidsmap.com

Women living with HIV perceive many forms of stigma in addition to HIV-related stigma, according to a qualitative study published in the July edition of Social Science & Medicine. Stigma related to living with HIV intersected with stigma associated with gender, race, poverty, incarceration and obesity, according to the interviewees.

“Our findings highlight the complexity of social processes of marginalization, which profoundly shape life experiences, opportunities, and healthcare access and uptake among women living with HIV,” say Whitney Rice and colleagues.

They conducted semi-structured interviews with 76 women living with HIV in Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; Atlanta, Georgia; and San Francisco, California. The interviewees were invited to describe their experiences of stigma and discrimination, whether in relation to their HIV status or another aspect of their identity.

The majority of interviewees were black (61%), heterosexual (83%), had children (68%) and had a monthly income of less than $1000 (57%).

Most participants were conscious of men having greater power than women. Women said they were undervalued in educational and employment contexts due to their gender. In interpersonal relationships, men would frequently disregard women’s needs and preferences, while parents would typically favour sons over daughters.

Women were also conscious of being subject to different expectations concerning sexual behaviour than men. Stigmas related to gender and HIV intersect, as this interviewee explained:

“It’s not so bad for [men] to have many sex partners but it’s horrible for a woman to have that many… And she’s a whore and all the other words… But it’s OK for him. That existed before HIV and it’s still in play now… Some dirty woman gave him [HIV] … and they’re the bad person —and then the women … you got it because you was sleeping around.”

Read the full article.

Heroic in the face of stigma

From the San Francisco Examiner

Mike Shriver has been living with HIV for 32 years. His diagnosis has survived five mayoral administrations, two high-pressure years doing AIDS prevention and policy work in Washington, D.C., and death threats from haters. His physical and mental health have taken a toll, and his faith has been tested.

But he’s doing just fine.

“I really am the luckiest man alive,” he said. “I’m very privileged and I know it and I don’t ever forget how lucky I am.”

Mike Shriver leans against the National AIDS Memorial Grove’s large memorial boulder in Golden Gate Park (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

When Shriver began advocating for AIDS treatment in the 1990s, at the epidemic’s peak, one in 25 San Franciscans were said to have HIV and one in 50 had an AIDS diagnosis. Comparatively, HIV infections and deaths in The City today are at their lowest rate in decades, thanks to advancements in treatment and prevention and the work of Shriver and his cohorts fighting for funding and a cure.

After a sabbatical to tend to his own health issues, including diabetes and Hepatitis C, Shriver has returned to advocacy — as co-chair of the city and county’s HIV Community Planning Council and as a steering committee member of Getting To Zero SF, working to reduce HIV transmission and deaths by 2020. His hiatus helped him achieve a new level of physical wellness and a deeper awareness of what personal balance and recovery from grief and trauma look like.

“I’m no longer so self-destructive,” he said, referring to his former lifestyle that put community work first and his own health second. “Workaholism is the most socially acceptable and rewarded addiction.”

Read the full article.

UNAIDS warns that HIV-related stigma is preventing people from accessing HIV services

GENEVA, 3 October 2017—UNAIDS has released a new report showing how stigma and discrimination is creating barriers to accessing HIV prevention, testing and treatment services and putting lives at risk.

The report, Confronting discrimination: overcoming HIV-related stigma and discrimination in health-care settings and beyond, was launched by the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, during the Human Rights Council Social Forum. It shows that people living with HIV who experience high levels of HIV-related stigma are more than twice as likely to delay enrolment into care than people who do not perceive HIV-related stigma.

“When people living with, or at risk of, HIV are discriminated against in health-care settings, they go underground. This seriously undermines our ability to reach people with HIV testing, treatment and prevention services,” said Mr Sidibé. “Stigma and discrimination is an affront to human rights and puts the lives of people living with HIV and key populations in danger.”

Read the full article here.

Health insurance agency apologizes, reverses Truvada policy after HIV activists push back

From NBC News

Following outrage by HIV advocates after UnitedHealthcare sent a rejection letter to a patient seeking Truvada — denying him due to his “high risk homosexual behavior” — the insurer announced Friday it is changing its policy for the daily HIV prevention pill “effective immediately.”

“We apologize for the insensitive language appearing in the letter and regret any difficulty it caused. We have corrected our letters, removed the prior authorization requirement for Truvada and members can fill their prescription at the network pharmacy of their choice,” a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email to NBC News Friday night.

Image: Daily Antiretroviral Pill Found To Protect Healthy From AIDS TransmissionBottles of Truvada are displayed at Jack’s Pharmacy on November 23, 2010 in San Anselmo, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The monthlong controversy started with a pre-authorization denial letter sent to Thomas Ciganko, a New York man whose physician prescribed Truvada for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). While the rejection came as a surprise, the stated reason was the real shock.

“The information sent in shows you are using this medicine for high risk homosexual behavior,” the letter, dated July 11, 2017, read. In the same paragraph, however, the letter listed an approved reason for taking the medication “to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection in adults at high risk.”

Read the full article on NBC News online.

Mental health care is key to ending AIDS

From Advocate.com

Research shows a strong correlation between mental health disorders and living with HIV or AIDS, a correlation that is often overlooked. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with HIV have an increased risk for developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders and are twice as likely to live with depression as those who do not have HIV. A 2010 U.K. study showed that one-third of HIV-positive men who participated in the survey met the criteria for a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.  

For those living with HIV or AIDS, depression is more than just mental hell — it can be a silent killer. Studies show that if people living with HIV feel stigmatized or suffer from mental illness, they are less likely to take their medication properly, which not only puts their own health at risk by not suppressing the individuals’ viral load, but also raises the likelihood that they will pass HIV on to others. Individuals living with HIV and depression are also more likely to think about suicide or even attempt to take their own lives. 

Despite what we know about the connection between mental health and HIV/AIDS, too few people living with HIV or AIDS, and those invested in their health and happiness, are getting the mental health support they need. That is why we are proud to announce the opening of the state-of-the-art GMHC Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic, which will allow us to incorporate innovative treatment and counseling into our service model. Services will be available to adult New Yorkers of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and income levels, regardless of HIV status.

Past traumas, stress, depression, reduced self-esteem, and other challenges can be grueling to deal with. We aim to offer holistic services that address not only our clients’ mental health issues, but their social, spiritual and health concerns as well. Meanwhile, the ability to reach more HIV-negative people with HIV-preventive interventions and mental health services will help us decrease new HIV infections. 

Read the full article.