All posts tagged hiv

87 Posts

Rewriting Your Inner Scripts

   Like many this week I read and discovered that Kid Cudi checked himself into rehab for “depression and suicidal urges.” It is intriguing that at 32 years of age this Black man checked himself into a place that will address his mental health. This is fantastic if you ask for my initial thoughts. Folks of color need this because realistically “we,” do not address much of the trauma (mostly mental but some physical) that we endure throughout our lives. In the Black community, showing any form of weakness is taboo. African-American men are especially taught to be strong and not give any indication of weakness. Many hide such vulnerabilities behind fortresses that prohibit any emotions from breaking out. Addressing mental health within the Black community is much more important today as we still face racial inequality, police brutality and other barrier that prohibit us from reaching our full potential in society.

When I was a flight attendant for a regional airline I was sexually assaulted on a layover. I was drugged and taken advantage of by two men and still to this day cannot identify them; however, their smell and voices still are glued into my head only to haunt me. I just recall waking up in extreme pain and a sight that still gives me nightmares.  I did the only thing I could do, which was to clean myself up and go to work.  The trauma led to more issues as I unknowingly infected my boyfriend at the time with an STI, which led him to believe I was cheating on him. This led to physical and verbal abuse, which only made things worse on my end. I never reported the rape because I never believed that the police would believe me nor understand how to deal with a gay man being raped. I was messed up internally and based off of the trauma the only way I dealt with it was through the only outlet I felt at the Photo on 1-31-13 at 8.16 PMtime was reasonable…. sex. The amount and types of sex I had to this day is a blur. I can tell you there was so much of it and even to this day I run into people online or in person who expect me to remember them and our encounter and I am completely clueless. As I was starting to phase out of the addiction of sex I was faced with another event, my HIV diagnosis. This sent me into a deep depression and a rise in my anxiety. I called out of work, stayed in bed, was not in the mood to eat, contemplated suicide and did not even open my blinds or turn on lights to give myself light. At one point I took a handful of pills in hopes that my life would end. I thank God that I am still here today. I credit my initial medical provider and caseworker at Whitman Walker for saving me as they directed me to a therapist. Much time was spent addressing my PTSD, depression, panic attacks, and anxiety through sitting down on a nice futon styled couch or by taking additional pills to my regimen.

Friendship, fellowship and being vulnerable to allow people into my
life worked just as strong as the treatment path I was on. Having people who acted like the roots to my tree provided stability, nutrients and the necessary affirmations needed to bring me back from a very dark place. In the beginning of this year while on a trip I was hospitalized due to viral meningitis. While sitting in my hospital room the doctor, who was an intern, came in and said “I feel so sorry for you.” She went on to explain that what was causing the meningitis was a strain of HSV-2. “You are 26 years old, black, HIV-positive, and now with another infection that is cAusten by sex you have so much life to live but you just are wasting it away,” she said with judgement. Although I was able to tell her that I stay affirmative and focus on my health and moving forward, deep down inside I was shocked, disappointed and angry at myself. I was replaying the rape, finding out my HIV diagnosis in the nasty way I did and feeling dirty. I hate when people use the word CLEAN to identify their STD status; however, I just felt filthy and wanted to scrub myself raw in hopes that I would be able to remedy myself of this new information I obtained. I ended up falling back into another deep battle with depression and feeling the anxiety creeping back in. Back at work I felt like I had to be this Ice Queen because if I would open up about my life then people would immediately know I was Poz and HSV-positive. I would check my entire body every day and night to make sure I was not breaking out anywhere. When people would try to get close I would simply push them away.  Every time my back or neck started to get tight or cramp I would immediately call my doctor and beg him to run more tests. I was a mess but I forced myself into therapy to help work through the issues. She encouraged me to try to push myself past my comfort zone, be social and try to make new friends while maintaining the friends I left behind.

I’ve been blessed to have good friends that continue to check on me although I may not reciprocate as often. My good friend in Florida always calls me to check to make sure I am doing alright.  My gay dad in San Francisco always sends positive healing vibes my way.  Being accepted by three amazing queer men of color at my job for who I am and the social awkwardness that comes with me makes me feel worthy of continuing
this journey that is life. On the trip we worked together they included me in almost everything.  We even purchased makeup together and also had a spa day and gave each other facials.  Having my bestfriend call me when she has not heard from me and when I pick up says “Where you been ho!”sounds silly and borderline offensive but just immediately places a smile on my face while making life just a little more bearable. Although I still remail closed off to much of the world, especially where I am at presently I still try my hardest to be vulnerable about my feelings, be willing to receive hugs, say I love you and mean it, and appreciate the calls to check-in on me. I share my story because we all go through shit and acquire so much trauma through our lives. We shouldn’t be afraid to seek a mental health professional, talk to friends and other support structures and be willing to take the necessary steps to take care of the issues we are dealing with. Cudi described himself  exactly as I feel at times which is “a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday in my life.” As someone who continuously deals with depression and PTSD from my sexual assault and diagnoses it is nice to see a Black man speak up transparently about his own mental health.
My therapist is on speed dial. Although I am in a good space right now I still work hard to see her. My therapist and medical provider are critical pieces to my puzzle toward greater holistic health. NEVER be afraid to see someone to help you work through the internal struggles.

ViiV Healthcare Announces $10 Million Initiative to Accelerate Response to HIV/AIDS Among Black Gay and Bisexual Men

Initial Investment to Help Research, Identify and Apply Innovative Solutions in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi – Two of the Cities Hardest Hit by HIV/AIDS 


 Research Triangle Park, NC – February 4, 2015 – ViiV Healthcare today announced the launch of a four-year, $10 million initial investment to fuel a concerted community response to the HIV epidemic among Black Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi, two U.S. cities hard hit by HIV/AIDS. The goal for this new initiative named ACCELERATE!, is to help speed up community-driven solutions to increase access and engagement in supportive HIV care and services by Black MSM. ACCELERATE! aligns with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and its imperative to focus on communities most disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS.

In recent years, there have been increased efforts to address health disparities and social drivers that contribute to the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in Black communities. However, the data continue to tell the story of an enduring and persistent epidemic among Black Americans, and Black MSM in particular. A recent study in The Lancet found disparities across the HIV Care Continuum –

the series of steps from when a person is diagnosed with HIV through the successful treatment of their infection with HIV medications – with 1 in 3 Black MSM found to be HIV-positive, compared with less than 1 in 10 White MSM. The study also found just 24 percent of Black MSM stay in care and 16 percent achieve viral suppression, compared with 43 percent and 34 percent respectively for White MSM.[i] These devastating data, along with the stories of individuals, families and communities affected, mandate the urgent need for new, community-driven approaches and solutions.

“As we commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we are proud to announce our ACCELERATE! Initiative, conceived in collaboration with national and community partners to help address the toll HIV/AIDS continues to take on Black communities,” said Bill Collier, Head of North America, ViiV Healthcare. “It’s our ambition that this investment will help build innovative, community-driven solutions to help reduce the HIV epidemic among Black MSM, and strengthen services and communities to support them.”

The ACCELERATE! Initiative leverages what ViiV Healthcare has gleaned from a range of community stakeholders and builds on available insights, community dynamics, best practices, evaluative measures and the conditions that present persistent challenges in Baltimore and Jackson.

Consistent with other ViiV Healthcare-supported programs conducted over the last five years, this initiative began with a convening of a wide range of stakeholders. The Baltimore meeting was held at Johns Hopkins University and included community representatives, allies, state and local health officials, healthcare professionals and academic researchers. The Jackson meeting was held at the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Office of Epidemiology and included a similar range of voices. These discussions, and other conversations with Black MSM and key stakeholders, confirmed the collective will and commitment to accelerating the response.

David Holtgrave, Ph.D., Professor, Department Chair, and Co-Director of the Center for Implementation Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, welcomes the ViiVHealthcare community innovation investment. “The disproportionate impact of HIV among Black MSM in our city is a truly urgent public health issue, and there are unmet public health needs that must rapidly be addressed. We welcome an accelerated response to HIV/AIDS in our own backyard, and appreciate this unique opportunity to participate in a discussion with our colleagues and friends in community organizations, health departments, other academic institutions and those with allied concerns, to help conceive, apply and evaluate innovative and evidence-based services so that we can urgently address this critical health disparity.

“Jackson, Mississippi has alarmingly high rates of HIV infection among young Black men; our city’s infection rates are among the highest in the country. We applaud ViiV Healthcare’s commitment to investing in innovative programs to reduce HIV/AIDS-related health disparities in Jackson. We believe that participation from the private sector is an important complement to our local efforts and programs to reduce these disparities,” said Leandro A. Mena, M.D., MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease and Director, Center for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Policy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The first phase of the ACCELERATE! Initiative will include ethnographic research with Black MSM and community members to identify gaps, assets, challenges and priorities, along with an intensive mapping process. ViiV Healthcare is in discussions with academic centers in Baltimore and Jackson for the Initiative’s research, monitoring and evaluation activities. The insights obtained will help determine the right approach and inform the next phase of this initiative in the effort to reduce the HIV epidemic among Black MSM and affected communities, and strengthen the systems that support and sustain programs that work.

About ViiV Healthcare 
ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined as a shareholder in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline, and commitment, please visit www.viivhealthcare.com.

An Interview with Joshua Rogers: Pick Up (A Short Film)

So after sending Joshua Rogers, the writer/director of Pickup, a message on Instagram I was happy to receive a response from him.I am so elated that Joshua was able to take time out of his busy schedule, promotion of the short film and fundraising to talk with ThePozLife.  I have stated my frustration with the fact that we do not tend to see many movies out there depicting the HIV experience in this new era of the virus; therefore, this movie naturally excites me.  Check out my interview below and remember to head over and donate toward the cause of seeing a movie surrounding gay characters that are HIV-positive and portraying that experience comes to fruition

Final One Sheet

What was the thought behind doing a movie that was focused on HIV?

Joshua Rogers –  I’m always looking for unique stories that haven’t been told before. I started writing this particular one, about a gay man telling a potential partner that he’s HIV-positive for the first time, when a friend came out to me as positive and I realized that I’d never seen that on film before. I never saw it as a coming out story. The more we talked about his fears and struggles, the more I understood how interesting his story was and how important it is that it’s told. Just to clarify, this is not my friend’s story, but he loves the script and I have his full support.

RBU_5527

Trevor Thompson

Are any of the actors HIV positive?

Joshua Rogers – Two of the three major roles have been cast, and I honestly don’t know if they’re positive or negative. All I know is that they embody these characters brilliantly and both are extremely passionate about the project.

There is a severe lack of focus on HIV in a positive light within film.  How is your film and its cast helping to address HIV and have much needed dialogue? 

Joshua Rogers – The purpose of this film is to start a dialogue. I want people to relate to the characters and situations and walk away thinking about what they just saw, talking about it with their friends. I agree that there is a severe lack of focus on HIV in a positive light within film and we want our movie to put a stop to that. We want to reach the widest audience possible so everyone can see a realistic, honest, and heartfelt portrayal of an HIV-positive person who’s happy, healthy, and looking for love, just like everyone else. This is our positive love story.

Why is donating to your film important?

Joshua Rogers – In order to reach the widest audience possible, we need to make the best movie possible. A film that looks and feels like something everyone will want to see. It’s difficult to get this kind of film made in Hollywood, which is why we choose to raise the funds on Kickstarter. We knew it was a film people would want to see made. This way we can make sure from beginning to end, that the story is authentic and true to the subject matter.

What was the biggest challenge with the film?

Joshua Rogers – Raising the money is the biggest challenge so far. We’re filmmakers who know how to make a great film, but haven’t had to raise money ourselves before. We’ve all been working really hard to get the word out (the last day to donate is December 16, 11am PST) and we’re all proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and learned so much about fundraising.

What will the audience take away from Pick up?

111

Brandon Crowder

Joshua Rogers – They’ll be taken on a journey few have been on before. They will be introduced to a character and a situation only a few have ever experienced. Hopefully they will come out of it with a little more empathy, a little more understanding, and maybe it will be a step towards stopping the stigma associated with HIV.

Is there anything you would like to mention or say?

Joshua Rogers – The reception so far to the script and to the kickstarter campaign has been incredibly humbling and encouraging. I’ve had the unique pleasure of hearing some really amazing stories from HIV-positive people from all over the world who want this film made. Thank you to everyone who’s donated so far and everyone who will continue to help us reach the goal! And thank you to everyone that’s reached out, offered their help, told us their story, and reminded us of why we started this project.

Also, I learned by reading a recent post by Josh Robbins from ImStillJosh.com (Friend to ThePozLife) that in early 2015 auditions for a third important role will be taking place out in Los Angeles.  So for those actors preparing their dialogues and stage presence good luck and may the odds be forever in your favor.

For more information on Pick Up check out their Kickstarter Campaign 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from ThePoz+Life Team! We are thankful for all of those who have supported us since we started in 2011 and we are excited for what is to come!

Make sure to also follow us on:
@ThePozLife

ThePoz+Life Facebook

#PositivityIsEverything

WORLD AIDS DAY 2014: CALL TO ACTION LIVE

As of 2013, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide (1981-2012), and an estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history.So ThePoz+Life is calling for everyone to join us on November 29th at 1:00 PM EST via Google Hangout, YouTube, or ThePozLife.com for, ThePozLife: Nationwide Call to Action for World AIDS Day! For this to be successful we need you to share with your social networks, organizations and other news platforms.
10431423_583175421813086_8582905741175799971_o

Voting is Necessary

1278188_10152310327582126_4025973683424660537_nSo today is Election Day in the United States. Voting is most importantly a civic right and in many nations is required by law. It is baffling how many people complain about government and are cynical about its system; however, have never been to a community meeting or directly engaged a candidate. Let’s be real, if you are a minority, living with HIV, enrolled in public assistance programs, or not seeing issues in your community being addressed then you need to be involved. From actually running for office to just putting the candidates on the spot by asking a question like “what is your view on increasing Ryan White Funding?” we all have to understand that in order to see better results in our community we have to be engaged on multiple levels. Being engaged by vocalizing our issues, voting and most importantly making our elected officials and governments (local, state and federal) accountable for their actions is essential. Too many times we vote people in public office based off of what we wish to see, yet never follow up until we are directly affected in a negative way. If I can wake up at 4am, walk my dog, drive two hours, vote, and be back at work then you can travel 10 minutes away and vote. It is simple yet not as tedious as you think.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 1.05.14 PM

Check out my response over Facebook.

To find out your voter status and voting locations check out http://www.canivote.org

Remember you can find me out Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!

Simply Cocoa

At the beginning of the year I did something that my parents continued to oppose and forbid me to do. Well during Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend after spending some time to reflect on the New Year in my hometown of Hampton, Virginia I drove back up to Maryland and did it. No I didn’t partake in an orgy, decide to binge on a buffet or go on a shopping spree. Instead I picked up a bundle of joy, my puppy I later named Cocoa.

Cocoa

Cocoa

You see in the beginning of the year I was alone, down in the dumps and struggling with work. I can candidly say that at the same time I began to realize that it was harder to get up in the morning or even feel motivated to faithfully go to the gym. All of this began to take a toll on me caring about my adherence. So I knew something had to be done to address this issue. There are definitely plenty of reasons my little Miniature Pincher has helped me deal with my PTSD and also keep my life interesting.

Every morning I wake up to being barked or talked at, nudged, or on rare occasions a foul smell. The majority of the time I am working simply by her moving or nudging me and I immediately know it is time to wake up and give her a good walk. Our morning 1-3 mile walk does not necessarily only help her. By walking with her in the morning I have the ability to be physically active, have some time without my iPhone to critically think and most importantly get out of bed regardless of how I feel and be productive. Cocoa also plays a role in me taking my medication. Around 8pm on most nights I feed her and afterwards she sits at the edge of the kitchen staring at me. The moment I give her eye contact she immediately looks towards the fridge. You see I keep some of her dog treats on top of the microwave next to my pill bottles. On top of that surprisingly when I have horrible nightmares she wakes me up.  Cocoa also is the perfect cuddle buddy and keeps me warm on cold nights. This has been a perfect partnership to keep me adherent and happy. Little does she know how big of a role she plays in my life.1517595_10152348101883522_4986122712107354650_n

Pets can be a great responsibility and come with additional expenses but nothing can replace the love coming from them. Cocoa brings tremendous joy into my life. Her silly expressions and creepy stalker ways always keeps a smile on my face. Many of my friends and colleagues I work and advocate alongside constantly comment or mention my dog and how I am always talking about her via social media. To be honest she definitely works my nerves when she pees or poops in the house of gets carsick and throw up in the car; however, at the end of the day when we lock eyes or I walk into the door after a ten hour day or week away at a conference she greets me with unconditional love. This love alongside the love of my family and friends is what keeps me going on those very hard days.

YBGLI October Policy Hangout with Members of the CDC

ybgli

The Organizing Committee of the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative (YBGLI) are pleased to welcome distinguished members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the YBGLI October Google Policy Hangout on Air scheduled for Thursday, October 30th at 7pm EDT.

REGISTER HERE

Dr. Eugene McCary, Mr. Lamont Scales and Dr. Dawn Smith, MD are the panelists chosen for this discussion. These individuals are committed to engaging with young black gay, bisexual and same gender loving individuals about what the CDC does and can do for our community. Register and join us. Don’t miss your chance to ask CDC your compelling question and get answers.  This is a perfect opportunity to be engaged and be an advocate for the community so share this very exciting event and let’s make it a great turn out!  Besides, it’s not like you have an opportunity to engage members of the CDC about young black gay, bisexual and SGL folks.

USCA 2014: Reflections of 3 Black Voices Bloggers – From Blog.AIDS.GOV Post

The 2014 U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) Exit Disclaimer earlier this month was the largest HIV/AIDS-related gathering in the nation. During the conference, the AIDS.gov team provided daily social media coverage Exit Disclaimer, policy updates, and technical assistance to conference participants in our social media lab.

Today, we bring you personal perspectives of the conference from Guy Anthony, Kahlib Barton, and Patrick Ingram: three bloggers from AIDS.gov’s Black Voices Blog, a bimonthly blog series written by black, gay millennials affected by HIV/AIDS. Each is a community leader is his own right, and all of them are sharing their experiences of living with HIV by using new media to amplify their voices and touch the lives of those like them.

Guy Anthony

Capture

…we are moving in the right direction if we continue to advocate positioning ourselves at the table when it comes to issues that directly infect and affect us.”

For a USCA first-timer like me, being amongst so many passionate people, both infected and affected, was an indescribable feeling that I’ll never forget. USCA left me reeling with excitement to return to DC to “do the work.”I was incredibly inspired to hold everyone, including myself, accountable in the fight to eradicate this disease. Not just people providing direct services to clients, but agencies as a whole, executive directors, and policy-makers.

One of my favorite moments was the workshop titled “Black Gay Men: Where Are We Now? Where Do We Need to Be?” The references to black gay revolutionaries like Audre Lorde Exit Disclaimer, Essex Hemphill Exit Disclaimer, Marlon Riggs Exit Disclaimer were inspiring. I think, as a community, we are moving in the right direction if we continue to position ourselves at the table when it comes to issues that directly affect us. And what exactly does being represented at the “table” look like? A great example is Douglas Brooks, the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; President Obama appointed him to that position earlier this year. Brooks is an HIV/AIDS activist, and a gay black man who is living with HIV. He leads the Administration’s work to reduce new HIV infections, improve health outcomes for people living with HIV, and eliminate HIV health disparities in the United States.

Overall, USCA 2014 was everything I thought it’d be. The dialogue at USCA was sincere and shared a common theme that black gay men need to start taking care of themselves, for themselves.

Kahlib Barton

Capture

I became inspired to advocate for those who are unable to do so for themselves, because so many people advocated for me when I didn’t think I could.”

USCA Exit Disclaimer, NMAC Exit Disclaimer, PrEP, PEP. Alphabet soup anyone? All of these acronyms were foreign to me about a month ago. But now I not only know what they mean, but I am inspired to learn more about HIV and how I can make a difference. Because of NMAC’s Youth Scholar program Exit Disclaimer, I was able to attend USCA for the first time this year, and it has changed my life.

Hearing personal experiences of others living with HIV, and meeting all the NMAC Youth Scholars with so many inspiring backgrounds, were my highlight moments of USCA. Meeting these inspiring individuals who were willing to help me navigate this unfamiliar world helped me to take advantage of this opportunity.

One story that particularly resonated with me was Lawrence Stallworth; he is young, the same age as I am, and has been living with the virus for as long as I have. But until I met him, the difference between us was that he did not allow his status to define him. Lawrence has already traveled across the country speaking about HIV awareness, and now serves on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

At USCA, I became inspired to advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves, because so many of the people I met advocated for me when I didn’t think I could. Before USCA I was a shy, angst-ridden, 23-year-old man living with HIV. But I turned my shyness into sufficiency and my angst into assurance. Now I feel that I am empowered and ready to make a difference in my own community. I have now joined multiple councils and organizations to be sure that my voice is heard. Most important, I use my voice as my tool to combat stigma and raise awareness for all those suffering with, or because of, this disease.

Patrick Ingram

Patrick Ingram“As I continue to grow, I realize the impact of change that takes place when I speak up…”

I was thrilled to return to USCA this year as a member of both the NMAC Youth Scholars and the USCA Steering Committee. For me, USCA is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people who are dedicated to addressing HIV.

One highlight from my time at USCA was having the opportunity to visit the University of California at San Diego’s Center for AIDS Research (CEFAR) Exit Disclaimer with my fellow NMAC Youth Scholars. I was able to learn more about the amazing work being done in the field of HIV medications and vaccines research. Visiting CEFAR has encouraged me to continue to advocate for young, gay men of color to have access to biomedical research opportunities.

As I continue to grow, I realize the impact of change that takes place when I speak up and set my mind to the task at hand. USCA has shown me that sharing my experiences and using my voice are important, and I continue to do so on my personal blog and in my work at the Virginia Department of Health. USCA 2015 will be held in Washington DC, and I am interested in how government agencies and organizations that serve those affected by HIV will employ, listen, give opportunities to lead, and implement the ideas/strategies of youth.

Did you go to USCA 2014? Share your experience in the comments below. Read more from our Black Voices bloggers here.

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/10/usca-2014-reflections-of-3-black-voices-bloggers.html#sthash.gRSS3cMJ.dpuf

ViiV Healthcare Expands Program to Reduce HIV Disparities in Southern U.S.

Congratulations to the grant awardees that will be able to do additional work to improve the barriers and disparities communities in the south face when it comes to HIV&AIDS.  More information can be found below in the official press release.


Positive Action Southern Initiative Commitment Continues with New Grants Awarded to Seven Organizations, Bringing Total Funding for Grassroots Projects to More than 2.8 Million to Date

 

Research Triangle Park, NC – October 20, 2014 – ViiV Healthcare today announced seven Positive Action Southern Initiative grant awardees in Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi for programs focused on reducing disparities in HIV/AIDS linkages to care and treatment among at-risk populations in their communities.  Recipients will receive up to $50,000 per year for a provisional commitment over the next two years to support the following programs:

  • Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, Inc., located in Atlanta, GA, will enhance their Linkage to Treatment program and enhance the reach and depth of their services to HIV positive individuals.
  • Brotherhood, Inc., located in New Orleans, LA, will expand their work to address the needs of HIV positive African American transgender persons and men who have sex with men (MSM) who are recently released from prison.
  • Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge, located in Baton Rouge, LA, will enhance their work to address gaps in services for HIV positive individuals recently released from prison.
  • Grace House, Inc., located in Jackson, MS, will expand its supportive services to homeless Mississippians living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • My Brother’s Keeper, Inc., located in Ridgeland, MS, will fill gaps in their current services by expanding HIV prevention and research programs for African American MSM to include case management.
  • SisterLove, Inc., located in Atlanta, GA, will enhance their “Everyone Has A Story” (EHAS) program through a series of trainings/webinars to build the capacity and skills of peer advocates, staff, and volunteers.
  • Someone Cares Inc. of Atlanta, located in Atlanta, GA, will improve their Transforming, Renewing and Unifying Transgender Health Project (TRUTH) intervention to support transgender women of color.

Since its launch in 2010, the Positive Action Southern Initiative has helped to enable effective interventions and quality services to fight HIV in Southern states.  In addition to receiving funding, grantees also become part of the Southern Initiative Network, a resource that supports grantees and grantee finalists through networking activities, including opportunities to share lessons learned with one another and with other community experts. This collaborative network has now grown to include 32 organizations working together to share effective strategies for addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis in the South.

“The Positive Action Southern Initiative is a direct reflection of our commitment to working together with the community to improve outcomes for those populations disproportionately affected by HIV, and we continue to be impressed by the innovative ideas and strong results put forth by the Network,” said Bill Collier, Head of North America, ViiV Healthcare.  “With round six of the program, we’re proud to continue funding effective community-based initiatives, which are essential to meeting the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and reducing HIV-related disparities in the Southern United States.”

Designed to address the gaps in care and treatment documented through the Gardner Cascade[i], the Positive Action Southern Initiative reflects the White House National HIV/AIDS Strategy by directing resources to areas and populations that have the greatest need. The Southern United States is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, representing 45 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses.[ii]

“The Southern AIDS Coalition and the Positive Action Southern Initiative were born of the same purpose – to effectively address the disparate impact of HIV on the Southern United States,” said Rainey Campbell, Executive Director of the Southern AIDS Coalition. “We’ve seen how the Southern Initiative supports on-the-ground interventions and collaboration to influence meaningful change across communities in our region.  Expansion of the program helps achieve our shared goals by providing further access to high-quality prevention, treatment and care services in order to reduce new infections and improve quality of life for people living with HIV in the South.”

With particular focus on reducing disparities among African-American and Latino populations, the Positive Action Southern Initiative currently operates in 10 Southern states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, representing 68 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses in 2011, with new infection rates highest among African-American adults and adolescents. [iii]

These health disparities are particularly prevalent in the Southern U.S. In Georgia, 55 percent of new HIV diagnoses were among African Americans in 2012, despite comprising only 31 percent of the population in the state.[iv],[v]  In Louisiana, 69 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases and 74 percent of newly diagnosed AIDS cases were among African Americans in 2013, though African Americans make up only 32 percent of Louisiana’s overall population.[vi]  In Mississippi, where the highest rate of HIV infections were among African Americans and Hispanics (37 and 13 per 100,000 persons, respectively), African Americans accounted for 75 percent of newly reported HIV infections in 2012, and their rate of infection was six times higher than the rate among Whites.[vii]

About ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Program The Southern Initiative is part of ViiV Healthcare’s broader Positive Action program that has empowered community organizations in Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia over the past 22 years. As a company focused solely on HIV/AIDS, ViiV Healthcare is committed to building on the success of the global program with efforts to support projects in the United States that address areas of greatest need.

When Positive Action was created in 1992 it was the first pharmaceutical company program of its kind to support communities affected by HIV and AIDS. The program targets its funds towards community-focused projects that reach those most affected by HIV, particularly in marginalized or vulnerable populations. These include youth, women and girls, sex workers, injection drug users, MSM, the incarcerated, transgender individuals and gay men. Positive Action works to build capacity in these communities to enable them to tackle stigma and discrimination, to test innovations in education, care and treatment, and to deliver greater and meaningful involvement of people living with HIV.

For more information about Positive Action, please visit: http://www.viivhealthcare.com/community-partnerships/positive-action/about.aspx

 

About ViiV Healthcare  

ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined as a shareholder in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline, and commitment, please visit www.viivhealthcare.com.

[i] Gardner EM, McLees, MP, Steiner JF, del Reio, C.  The Spectrum of Engagement in HIV Care and its Relevance to Test-and-Treat Strategies for Prevention of HIV Infection. Clin Infect Dis. 2011; 52 (6): 793-800. 

[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV and AIDS in the United States by Geographic Distribution. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/geographic.htm.  Accessed August 26, 2014.

[iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance by Race/Ethnicity (through 2011). http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/statistics_surveillance_raceEthnicity.pdf. Accessed August 26, 2014.

[iv] The Georgia Department of Public Health.  Fact Sheet: HIV Surveillance, Georgia, 2012. http://dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/HIV_EPI_Fact_Sheet_Surveillance_2012.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[v] United States Census Bureau.  State & County Quick Facts. Georgia. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13000.html.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[vi] Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, STD/HIV Program (SHP). Louisiana HIV/AIDS Surveillance Quarterly Report, June 30, 2014. http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/oph/HIVSTD/hiv-aids/2014/Second_Quarter2014.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[vii] Mississippi State Department of Health. HIV Disease 2012 Fact Sheet.  http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/5070.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

U.S. Media Inquiries Marc Meachem (919) 483-8756

The 2014 National Minority AIDS Council’s Youth Scholars

 The Poz+ Life is proud to have Patrick, Thomas, friends, cohorts, and most importantly friends selected to attend the 2014 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) in San Diego, California.  Thomas and Patrick will be providing live social media conversations , blogging and videos during and after the conference.  
HIV disproportionately impacts America’s young people, especially young gay and bisexual men of color. Approximately 25% of all new infections occur in youth and between 2007 and 2010, there was a 22% increase among gay men aged 13–24. NMAC’s Youth initiative, sponsored by ViiV Healthcare, the Magic Johnson Foundation and Advocates for Youth aims to assist youth in becoming more effective and informed health advocates, and empowering them to become more active in their communities.Hundreds of applicants between the ages of 18 – 25 applied to participate in our 2014 program, including the opportunity to further their leadership in the field of HIV/AIDS as well as attend the 2014 United States Conference on AIDS in San Diego, CA, from Oct. 2 – 5.

Participants will take part in various events throughout 2014, from webinars to conference calls, to help further develop their skills and knowledge and prepare them to lead efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their communities and across the country. NMAC is thrilled hat it can continue to offer this exciting initiative and to introduce you to the selected participants. For more than 25 years, NMAC has worked to develop leadership in communities of color to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and is proud to have the opportunity to help develop the skills of a new generation of leaders

main page logo [object Object] Advocates for Youth.pngMJ Foundation Logo.jpg

The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) is very pleased to announce it has selected the Youth Scholars for NMAC’s Youth Initiative to End HIV in America. The eight-month Youth Initiative program is sponsored by NMAC in collaboration with ViiV HealthcareAdvocates for Youth, and the Magic Johnson Foundation and will provide opportunities for the scholars to develop leadership skills, increase knowledge, build confidence, and integrate youth in HIV/AIDS programs and policies.

Learn more about our scholars online here!  http://nmac.org/youth-scholars/

NMAC received and reviewed hundreds of applications through a competitive selection process. A Youth Advisory Committee worked with our Treatment Education Adherence Mobilization (TEAM) and Conferences & Meeting Services (CMS) divisions to select the 2014 recipients. We are incredibly proud to have a diverse, talented, and dynamic group of young leaders to participate in the Initiative.

With its focus on developing leadership among youth to end HIV in America, the skills the youth leaders will develop during the U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) will help drive the next generation of leaders in HIV. Through education and training, these individuals will develop the necessary tools to have a significant impact on the current and future landscape of HIV. Following the conference, the scholars will have the opportunity to share their skills with individuals in their own communities and through best practices, continue active participation in the HIV movement.

If you would like to learn more about the incredible group of Youth Scholars, you can view their pictures and bios on our website at: http://nmac.org/youth-scholars/.