Are you a resident of Pennsylvania who has been impacted by HIV/AIDS? Consider volunteering for the HIV Planning Group (HPG)! The HPG contributes to the development of the HIV Prevention and Care Plan for the State Department of Health. The Plan implements ongoing activities to reduce HIV and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV.
Tell Me About It: HIV Conversations in the Community is a six-part podcast series of honest conversations, sharing accurate and trustworthy information about HIV and sexual and reproductive health in a friendly and open way.
It’s a personal, engaging and honest look at what it really means to live with HIV today, and how that’s changed significantly over the years. Each episode shares developments in prevention and treatment that allow people living with HIV to live long and healthy lives free of fear, and shatters some of the most damaging myths about HIV and its impact on sex, life expectancy, starting a family, staying well, mental health and public attitudes.
It was inspired by the conversations that people living with HIV often find themselves having with those unaware of how HIV has changed in recent years: How did you get it? Aren’t you just a drain on NHS resources? Can I catch it off you? Will you die young?
Hosted by writer, researcher, international performance poet and TEDx speaker Bakita Kasadha, each episode is a conversation between people sharing their experiences of HIV. Most pair a person who is living with HIV and another person who does not have the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that some racial/ethnic groups are at higher risk for getting HIV than others.
CDC data shows that Black/African American communities account for a higher proportion of new HIV infections as compared to other races and ethnicities. In 2018, Black/African Americans accounted for 13% of the US population but 42% of new HIV diagnoses.
Similarly, in the same 2018 report, the CDC notes adult and adolescent Hispanics/Latinos made up 27% of the 37,968 new HIV diagnoses in the United States.
Why? Because these communities are impacted by demographic factors such as discrimination, stigma, and institutionalized health disparities—all of which affect their risk for HIV.
So what can we do?
People who know they’re infected can get into treatment and become HIV undetectable—which means the level of virus in the body is so low that it can’t be passed on to a sex partner. And people who know they’re not infected can take steps to prevent future infection by practicing safer sex (like using condoms) and taking the HIV prevention medication known as PrEP.
The first step, then, to preventing HIV is to get tested.
The good news is that anyone who resides in Pennsylvania can now get a free HIV self-test kit delivered in the mail.
“We created getmyHIVtest.com to make test kits available to anyone in the state who might be at risk for HIV,” explains Raymond Yeo, one of the project’s coordinators at the University of Pittsburgh. “Knowing your HIV status is key in the preventing HIV in our communities—especially those most at risk for new infections.”
The website, www.getmyHIVtest.com, provides easy-to-follow instructions and online form where PA residents can order their free kit, which typically arrives—in an unmarked package—within five to ten business days. Recipients of the kit are asked to provide basic demographic information and to take a follow up survey as a means to improve the program in the months ahead.
“This is a big development in the fight against HIV in Pennsylvania and we need all the input we can get,” added Yeo. “It’s unrealistic to think we can test everyone in the state so it’s important that we find ways to get our test kits into the hands of the people who need them the most.”
May 19 is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day devoted to eliminating HIV stigma in API communities. Learn more about the impact of HIV on these populations online at https://bit.ly/3gfhsPG and https://bit.ly/3djLa4q. ‘
If you’re looking for testing resources, you can go to https://gettested.cdc.gov and search by zip code to find local testing clinics. Pennsylvania residents can also go to www.getmyHIVtest.com and order a free HIV test kit through the mail.
Scholarship opportunities for people living with HIV are available now through HIV League. Applications are being accepted until 6/1/21 and individuals will be awarded with $1000 towards their studies. Send an email to Daniel@HIVleague.org for more information or go to their website www.HIVLeague.org.
All individuals living with HIV in Pennsylvania are invited to share their opinions in this Priority Setting Survey!
Priority Setting is a part of HIV Planning in Pennsylvania and offers a special chance for individuals living with HIV to have their opinions recorded. These responses help the state’s HIV Planning Group and Pennsylvania Department of Health Division of HIV Disease make decisions about HIV spending and planning for a 5-year cycle. Individuals living with HIV are invited to rank a list of Ryan White Part B services, based on their own needs and the kinds of services that they find important.
Due to extended HIV Planning deadlines, we are reopening this year’s Priority Setting Survey, and are looking for your response!
We ask for your responses by Wednesday, June 30th .
All youth deserve access to comprehensive sexual health education. National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is an opportunity to work together to make this a reality. By educating youth about the basics of HIV, how to protect themselves, find testing, treatment and care services, and confront HIV stigma in their communities, we are empowering them to take an active role in ending the HIV epidemic for future generations.
Today’s youth have many of the same hopes and dreams as previous generations. But we must also recognize they are distinct in many ways too. Their widespread passion for advocacy and social change sets them apart. They also face unique challenges and barriers when it comes to achieving those dreams.
In 2018, youth aged 13 to 24 made up 21% of the 37,832 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. Most new youth diagnoses were among gay, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM). Most of these new diagnoses occurred among young Black and Latinx MSM. Yet, in 2018, youth were the least likely age group to be aware they had HIV, remain in care, or achieve viral suppression. One of the most important things we can do to change this trend is to provide accurate, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive information about HIV.
This year’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) observance comes amidst a national dialogue on systemic racism and calls for a greater focus on equity in all our work. We should use this opportunity to examine and address historic inequities experienced by Black Americans. For the HIV community, this means working to understand and address the circumstances that put people at risk for HIV or that create barriers to HIV care and treatment.
Black Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial/ethnic groups. According to CDC data,
Black Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population, but 41% of people with HIV in the U.S. in 2018.
42% of new HIV infections in 2018 were among Black Americans.
Among the estimated 161,800 people in the U.S. with undiagnosed HIV, 42% (67,800) are Black. That means that nearly one in seven Black Americans with HIV are unaware of their HIV status and are not receiving the care they need to stay healthy and prevent transmission to others.
Fewer Black Americans in HIV care are virally suppressed: In 2018, 60% of Blacks, 64% of Latinos, and 71% of whites with diagnosed HIV were virally suppressed.
For more than 30 years, Gaétan Dugas was blamed for bringing the AIDS epidemic to the United States. A French-Canadian who died in 1984, Dugas was thought to have carried the disease to America and transmitted it to scores of sexual partners while working as a flight attendant.
But this week, scientists finally cleared the name of the man who, in the history of the AIDS epidemic, came to be known as “Patient Zero.”
In a study published in the journal Nature, the researchers found that blood sampled from Dugas in 1983 contained the same strain of HIV that was infecting men in New York City as early as 1971 — three years before he arrived in the U.S. as an employee for Air Canada.
What is the AHEAD Dashboard?
AHEAD is a data visualization tool created to support the efforts of local health departments towards reaching the goals of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) initiative.
Who Can Use the AHEAD Dashboard?
AHEAD allows jurisdictions, community organizations, and other stakeholders to monitor progress towards meeting the goals of EHE and use data to inform national and jurisdictional action.
AHEAD graphically visualizes data and targets for jurisdictions to track their progress on the six EHE indicators:
• Knowledge of Status
• Linkage to HIV Medical Care
• Viral Suppression
• PrEP Coverage
Over the next year, AHEAD will add additional features and expanded data sets to further to encourage progress towards EHE initiative goals.
Explore the AHEAD Dashboard today and view our progress towards ending the HIV epidemic in America