Category Archives: HIV Activism

Last call: Get involved in planning HIV prevention and care in Pennsylvania

The HIV Planning Group (HPG) is a group of volunteers who offer a range of HIV-related experience from around the state. There primary function is to develop the multi-year Comprehensive HIV Care Service Plan. The 5-year Plan provides guidance to the Department of Health, and other organizations in the state, in addressing HIV disease in the state. It covers a range of topics regarding prevention, testing, access to care, quality treatment, and helping people stay in care. You can access a pdf of the 2017-2021 plan here.

In addition, HPG members review the Department of Health’s applications for funding from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Heath Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). They also provide input and recommendations to the Division of HIV/AIDS on other care and prevention related issues.

Applications for HPG membership can be found at StopHIV.com.

HPCP flyer

Dr. Anthony Silvestre led the way on Pitt Men’s Study and AIDS Task Force

From the University Times

Anthony “Tony” Silvestre, whose work with the LGBT community was far ahead of its time and made the pioneering Pitt Men’s Study possible, died Sept. 1, 2022 at 75.

Doctor Silvestre on the cover of Out Magazine
Dr. Silvestre on the cover of Pittsburgh’s Out Magazine in May 1984

[…] His international advocacy and public health work began at Penn State (1971-76), continued with several Philadelphia organizations (1976-83) and brought him to Pitt in early 1984 until his retirement in 2018.

In 1976, he was the founding chairman of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Council on Sexual Minorities, likely the first such state organization in the country. He was U.S. liaison to the World Health Organization (1990-93) and a subject matter expert on HIV for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002.

Through the years, he served on many expert and advisory panels for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Allegheny County Department of Health on HIV, alcohol and substance use among gender and sexual minorities, community marginalization and health education and outreach.

But he is perhaps best known in Pittsburgh for his role in forming and running the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (now Allies for Health and Wellbeing) in its early years. In the process, he supported more than a dozen other state and community groups promoting LGBTQIA-related and HIV-related health messaging for at-risk communities.

In conjunction with his research and teaching in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, he founded the Pennsylvania Prevention Project (now the HIV Prevention and Care Project) there in 1993 to advance comprehensive HIV planning with impacted communities. He also helped create and direct the School of Public Health’s Center for LGBT Research, and was honored by Pitt with the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award.

He published more than 45 peer-reviewed articles, proceedings and book chapters, and created many state and federal professional reports and presentations as well, much of which can be found at Dickinson College.

Read the full article.

Give us your feedback regarding HIV prevention and care in Pennsylvania

If you or someone you love has been affected by HIV, the PA Department of Health and the HIV Prevention and Care Project at the University of Pittsburgh need your input.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of HIV Disease is seeking input on the planned strategies and activities that will go into the 2022-2027 Integrated HIV Prevention and Care Plan.

This plan guides all activities related to HIV prevention and care in Pennsylvania. Feedback will help the Division of HIV Disease most effectively plan for the ongoing needs of all people served in Pennsylvania.

Go to this link to participate in the survey: https://pitt.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_er3ujTdKIIJC2x0
If you have any questions, send and email to stakeholders@stophiv.com.

Universities create special HIV testing initiative to provide free HIV self-test kits to PA residents

According to a 2020 CDC report, out of more than 30,000 new cases of HIV infection in the United States, Black and Latinx populations bear the brunt of being most at risk, accounting for two-thirds (20,000) of the new infections. The reason (the CDC also reports) is due to institutionalized health disparities among those groups. In other words, Black and Latinx people face higher levels of discrimination when seeking health care.

To help address the issue, the HIV Prevention and Care Project at the University of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Expanded HIV Testing Initiative at Penn State University created a state-wide program that allows residents of Pennsylvania to obtain a free HIV self-test kit through the mail.

Ora Quick test kit image
The free test kits use an oral swab and you get results in 20 minutes

Knowing your HIV status is the first step in preventing the spread of the virus. People who test positive can obtain treatment that keeps the virus in check, and therefore makes it next to impossible to spread to others.

To obtain a free HIV self-test kit, go to www.getmyHIVtest.com. Taking care of your health is part of taking care of your community.

To find out more about the free HIV test kit program, and find other HIV/STI testing resources, you can go to the HIV Prevention and Care Project Website at https://hivpreventionandcareproject.com/resources/. If you still have questions, send an email to info@getmyHIVtest.com.

May 19th is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

From HIV.gov

May 19th is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This observance, led by the San Francisco Community Health Center, raises awareness of the impact of HIV and AIDS, risk, and stigma surrounding HIV in the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community.

National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV Awareness Day logo

In recent years, annual HIV diagnoses have increased among some in the API community, such as API young adults and men who have sex with men. Knowing your status gives you powerful information so that you can take steps to lower your HIV risk and take charge of your health. Use the HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator to find a clinic near you or select from the self-testing options available.
In addition, the CDC Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign offers resources that promote testing and treatment for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Editors note: People who reside in Pennsylvania can get a free HIV self-test kit through the mail. Go to www.getmyHIVtest.com to order yours today.

April 10th is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day

From poz.com

Saturday, April 10, marks National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) 2021. Traditionally, it’s a “day to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people,” according to the nonprofit Advocates for Youth, which spearheads NYHAAD.

The group adds, “The day also highlights the  HIV preventiontreatment and care campaigns of young people in the U.S.”

cheering latin and hispanic and african american and caucasian young adults

This year, the HIV awareness day also includes a call to action. Youth advocates want you to help them convince Congress to pass the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act. “REPEAL” stands for: “Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal” HIV Discrimination.

The REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act aims to modernize HIV crime laws, such as those that set harsh sentences for people with HIV who allegedly don’t disclose their status before sex—even if they’re undetectable and HIV was not transmitted. (To read a collection of POZ articles about such laws and efforts to change them, click #Criminalization.)

You can support Advocates for Youth’s call to action by filling out an online form that will generate a letter to send to members of Congress.

See the full article on POZ.

The “Let’s Stop HIV Together” campaign is recruiting community members

Lets Stop HIV togetherThe Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign is recruiting community members to be a part of audience-specific community listening session groups. These groups will provide an opportunity for the campaign to hear from community members impacted by HIV. The groups will discuss attitudes, values, and beliefs at the individual and community level related to HIV and how these might shape health behaviors.

The community listening session groups for this year are:

  • Transgender women
  • MSM
  • Older adults with HIV
  • Heterosexual, cisgender, Black men and women
  • Young Adults
  • Spanish speaking Hispanics/Latinos

Audience specific announcements are included here as attachments. If there are individuals in your network that may be interested in sharing their insights and experiences with the campaign, please pass on the appropriate announcement and encourage them to fill out the screening questionnaire. The deadline to apply is 11:59 PM EST on March 25, 2022.

The campaign is looking for a diverse group of people who are:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Fluent in English (ability to speak Spanish is a plus)
  • Living with HIV or HIV negative status
  • Comfortable sharing experiences with HIV and other related experiences
  • Available to participate in two virtual community discussions between late April and June 2022, each lasting approximately 2 hours. If you are selected, we will follow up to schedule specific dates and times.

Available to participate in two virtual community discussions between late April and June 2022, each lasting approximately 2 hours. If you are selected, we will follow up to schedule specific dates and times.

All participants will be compensated $150 per session (two sessions for a total of $300) for their participation. Some prep time may be requested, such as reviewing documents prior to the session.

If there are any questions related to the opportunity, please reach out to the recruitment coordinator Kevin Hernandez at khernandez@fhi360.org.

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

From POZ Magazine online…

Black woman and man standing together
“Let’s Stop HIV Together” campaign that promotes NBHAAD at https://www.cdc.gov/stophivtogether/index.html

Monday, February 7, marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) 2022. By numerous measures, Black Americans are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. NBHAAD highlights related challenges while raising awareness about prevention, testing, treatment and more.

“This #NBHAAD we are focused on equity,” tweeted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of HIV Prevention, adding: “We must end unequal access to #HIV prevention & care, & address root causes that contribute to disparities in HIV such as poverty, stigma, systemic racism, & unequal access to healthcare & education.”

In 2020, African Americans represented 12% of the U.S. population age 13 and older but accounted for 43% of new HIV diagnoses, according to AIDSVu.org, which analyzes HIV data and creates related infographics and interactive maps.

Disproportionate HIV rates are more pronounced in the South, where in 2020, Black Americans accounted for 52% of new HIV diagnoses but made up only 19% of the population in that region.

See the full article.

HIV Planning: Be a Part of the Conversation!

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.

Hands coming together while holding red, H I V ribbons

You can apply to the HPG at https://tinyurl.com/ApplyHPG . Applications will be accepted until December 10th, 2021.

You can find out more about the HPG at the HIV Prevention and Care Project’s Capacity Building and Planning page.

Tell Me About It: busting myths and celebrating progress

From aidsmap.com

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.

Tell Me About it: Busting myths and celebrating progressIt’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.

Read the full article on aidsmap.com.