Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Study puts HIV rate among gay men at 1 in 5
By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 24, 2010; A3
One in five gay men in the United States has HIV, and almost half of those who carry the virus are unaware that they are infected, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
The study tested more than 8,000 men in 21 cities in 2008, making it the most comprehensive such research by the CDC. It found that young, sexually active gay men and those in minority groups are least likely to know their health status, even as infection rates are climbing among men who have sex with men, while the rates of other at-risk groups - heterosexuals and intravenous drug users - are falling.
The findings were released Thursday, ahead of National Gay Men's HIV Awareness Day on Monday.
A CDC official called for a sharper focus on testing. "This study's message is clear: HIV exacts a devastating toll on men who have sex with men in America's major cities, and yet far too many of those who are infected don't know it," said Kevin Fenton, director of the agency's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
Cities in the study include Baltimore, where the prevalence rate among men who have sex with men was highest at 38 percent, and Atlanta, where it was lowest at 6 percent.
In the District, where the general HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is about 4 percent, more than 16,000 adults, one of the highest numbers in the nation, has the virus, according to the city Department of Health. According to the CDC study, the District had a 14 percent prevalence rate among men who have sex with men.
A CDC spokeswoman said the recent study's findings were similar to those of a National Health Behavioral Study conducted between June 2004 and April 2005, when one in four gay men tested positive for the virus. But the percentage of minorities who tested positive changed dramatically in the three years since the previous study.
Back then, 46 percent of gay black men tested positive in the smaller study, compared with 40 percent in the larger 2008 study. Black gay men outpaced white and Hispanic men in both studies.
In the earlier study, Hispanics represented 18 percent of the infected compared with 23 percent in the most recent study. White men comprised 21 percent of the infected in 2004-05 and 20 percent in the more recent study.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Happy 4th of July America! What a beautiful and amazing country this is, a land that is multi-cultural, expansive and beautiful. I am so grateful to those whom have died so that I may live free.
In an effort to respect those whom have gone before us...it is important that we do our part. With freedoms come responsibilities from each and every one of us. May we reach out to help and extend our kindness and love to others. As we help others...we begin to understand a little more about ourselves.
I invite everyone who reads this...to reach out and volunteer your time and efforts to make a true difference in this world.
Again, Happy 4th of July AMERICA! May we celebrate with light and kindness!
Monday, June 14, 2010
I struggled with health problems for a long time before I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I didn’t fit in the “normal” box, my age, gender and healthy active life style ruled out anything serious- there couldn’t be anything wrong with me, I was young and appeared to be in good health so because I was a woman I must be crazy, depressed or menstruating according to the numerous doctors that found it easier to write me prescriptions for anti-depressants ; nearly a decade later I collapsed on the street and was rushed to the hospital, suddenly I wasn’t crazy anymore…funny how that works isn’t it.
It seems to me that unless we are quite literally hit in the face with serious issues it is easier to ignore them- if I pretend no problems exist they’ll just go away right? That’s how I feel so many people view the near epidemic levels HIV/AIDS has reached in this country. No one talks about it anymore and I wonder why. We hear about the women and children stricken with the disease in other countries but not here in our own backyard… I’m bewildered at the apparent denial most people are in, What?? If you’re straight, under 35, and a non intervenes drug user you’re free of any possible risk? Well, I’m not a 60 year old man with a history of smoking and excessive drinking – yep, that’s the box I didn’t fit in -but ironically I still had pancreatic cancer. At least people kind of talk about Cancer, well, unless you have it then no one knows what to say but they at least try. You see I know what it feels like to be faced with your own mortality and trust me it’s not a fun and happy place to visit.
I guess my point is that we have the opportunity to change the statistics if we just talk- seems pretty easy right, then why is it so hard? I didn’t have a booklet on how to protect myself from pancreatic cancer but we have so much material and resources available to help us save our own lives AND we ignore it because we’re scared. Trust me there is no level of fear you can imagine when you hear you have cancer or you’re HIV positive- all you hear is : tick-tock, tick- tock… and here I thought the biological clock was bad! I’m lucky, I had one of the most amazing physicians and he saved my life- three years ago in July. Unfortunately there is no surgery, medicine or Chemo treatment that can cure HIV/AIDS- yet …SO all we can do to protect ourselves, our children, our friends, our families is to TALK ABOUT IT! Knowledge is power and the key. Just talking can start to decrease the number of people that get infected in this country everyday because they think they aren’t at risk simply because they don’t fit in a box…. Diseases don’t see boxes, HIV/AIDS doesn’t know that we’re off limits but if we talk about it we can create a new box, perhaps one that HIV/AIDS doesn’t fit in and can’t get in.
I’ve lost too many friends to HIV/AIDS already, I don’t want to lose anyone else and neither do you. You talk to your friends everyday and email jokes and fun stuff all the time, it doesn’t have to be so serious but it does have to happen- I’ll leave you with this final thought:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
Monday, April 5, 2010
I am the mother of 5 (plus one we raised that count making it 6) with 11 grandchildren. Today my thoughts are directed toward our youngest daughter. She is 30 and has Downs Syndrome, but that isn’t what makes her so unique.
Cyd is just about the coolest person on the planet. She has a job, lives in an apartment she shares with one of her older sisters, and has a boyfriend. But those aren’t the things that make her so unique; it’s that she doesn’t let her disability and the systems she has to work within control her. Now it is important to say that she doesn’t do it alone, but it is important to say she helps to make the system work for her.
She went away from home for 3 years and lived on campus at a small Junior College. They gave her a degree in Community Living, as well as, letting her walk with her graduating class. She has continued to be involved with all her roommates. When she moved home she developed blood clots and was in the hospital and kept in a coma for 25 days and when they said she couldn’t go home on day 28 of her hospital stay because she couldn’t walk, she got up and walked the halls 3 times. On day 29 she walked up and down stairs, and on day 30 they let her come home. She is so determined!
This is only one example of how strong her will is to be accepted and be just like you. That determination also makes me wonder about other individuals who face discrimination on a regular basses who want nothing more than to be accepted and are just like you. If we don’t all stand together for each other we stand against each other. We are a proud nation that talks about the power of the one. If we forget we are a nation of all, we will soon forget about the one and loose what we stand for.
I am determined to put my energy behind "VOICE OF CHANGE" and look forward to making a difference.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Marie Robinson
I was shocked to read Rich Tafel's findings on the sad and rapid spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the United States...and how it is more evident that the American society is silenced by this disease. We must be convinced in our efforts to make a difference and help! Who is on board? Will you be?
Take the first step with us and say something - if you are interested in helping us during our endeavors over the next year, no matter where you are at. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you in advance!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
By Rich Tafel
Rich Tafel was the founding Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. He also served as Director of Adolescent Health in MA. Today, he is President of RLT Strategies offering policy and leadership strategies to cutting edge social entrepreneurs fighting for world change.
There’s a sudden silence in our society around HIV AIDS and based on what I’ve watched over my entire life time silence around AIDS is never a good thing.
My coming out as a gay man corresponded pretty directly to the explosion of AIDS cases in America. I lived in Boston at the time and remember the silence in the great culture around the deaths of young gay men. I also remember we in the gay community discussing various theories such as you can get it from the whirl pool at the gym, poppers or even people preparing food.
The silence around AIDS was so profound that the first really effective motto of the AIDS movement used by ACT UP was “Silence=Death”. Public elected officials seemed to be saying that as long as this disease is killing gays and drug addicts, it wasn’t worthy of a response.
My tendency in life is to overcome my fears by steering right into them. It was this motivation that led me to become and AIDS Buddy in 1986. This meant that you were trained to meet the weekly needs of your dying AIDS buddy and to attend your support group on a monthly basis. My years as an AIDS buddy had and still have a profound impact on me. My first buddy, Richard, shocked everyone living for six months.
During each weekly visit I got to observe all the failed remedies we had to offer people living with AIDS. For me the silence was giving away to a horrible awareness. Each week another 30 something gay man you’d know was listed on the obituary page of the local gay press.
Though the silence in the gay community was falling away, there still persisted a silence among the general public. AIDS simply wasn’t talked about.
In 1991, I became head of adolescent health programs in Massachusetts. The same silence I’d experienced seven years early still persisted within the Department of Public Health. I was appointed by the governor at that time as an openly gay man and in my first meeting with my the new team I was told, “Now we know you’re gay and you’ll want to push a gay agenda and work on AIDS stuff, but we don’t have the resources to address those issues and the issues we’re focused on now. So get any ideas out of your head of trying to put those issues on the agenda.”
More silence on AIDS and this time from health officials. Fortunately, they didn’t get their way and Massachusetts went on to pioneer AIDS education among teens with a specific outreach to gay youth. There were those who broke the silence. T head of the AIDS Department at that time, John Auerbach, was a tireless champion on the issue. Today, he’s the commissioner of all public health in Massachusetts.
During my years as the founding executive director of Log Cabin Republicans I once again encountered silence around AIDS issues. A large portion of my time was consumed with lobbying on behalf of AIDS programs often to a Republican controlled Congress. I remember the look on staffers faces as I requested to meet with them to discuss the Ryan White Care Act or other AIDS funding issues. Most had never discussed this topic. Again I found myself breaking the silence around AIDS.
In the early 90’s I was able to play a small role in insuring AIDS treatment was provided to patients in Africa. What struck me most about my visits to people living with AIDS there was that death had become so prevalent for so many families that finally silence had been broken and there was openness to treatment and education. Silence still played a key role in infection where many wives felt they couldn’t speak out about their own health concerns to husbands who they feared might infect them. As horrible as it was attending funerals in the 1980’s, my trip to AIDS programs in Africa left a whole new level of impact. When you see lots of child sized coffins for sale by the side of the road you never forget it.
Following the success of drug companies creating amazing HIV drugs the issue of HIV has gone silent again. There’s little to no discussion that the rates of HIV infection are climbing among gay men under 30. Once again we’re silent.
This silence is having devastating impact. In the city where I live Washington DC our nation’s capitol, 1 in 30 adults are infected with HIV a rate higher than Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda. In New York City 1 in 10 men who have sex with men are now infected with HIV. In communities of color these rates are dramatically higher. In some of the leading US cities, HIV rates are 30% practically double that of South Africa. This and more dire data was published in the February 10, 2010 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine entitled “AIDS in America — Forgotten but Not Gone.”
Silence has always been AIDS best friend. To remain silent is to participate in its conspiracy. A new generation of leaders has to break the silence on this horrible epidemic here at home.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Just like the disease itself, where a T cell first learns to recognize an enemy before meeting one, some of us are guilty of doing the same to our brothers and sisters. Why does a T cell let in the Aids virus without fighting it? Why are we letting our brothers and sisters die without helping them fight? We should be on the front line of the battle. But this isn’t my battle you say…
The disease of our time isn’t Aids, it is judgment, which leads to intolerance, which leads to hate. Hatred is the spiritual malignancy of our species and like the most vicious disease, does its most awful work not outwardly but within us. It is killing our children. They will inherit what we bequeath to them. Is this not your battle?
The word AID itself means to help. To help is to love. To love unconditionally is to love without any condition. When we love another we want to understand their fight and fears. We want the knowledge to help illuminate their path. We want the armor to protect them. Only love can undo what has been done. Do it for ourselves, but more importantly for our children. There is no greater gift that we can give them than to do what God has asked us to do: love one another.
If you love someone, then this IS your battle. Welcome to the front lines. This is where miracles will happen.
Cuz who luvs
Monday, February 22, 2010
By simply ignoring the issue we fall farther and farther behind and more individuals will become infected with the disease. The Hiv/Aids community and friends must not hush themselves any longer. we must step forward and do something and say something.
Below are the estimates from 2007 regarding those currently living with HIV/AIDS. (sorry, I was not able to find the 2009 estimates.)
It is said that these estimates have raised to nearly 1.5 Million. Make a difference and make some noise! Join us!
At the end of 2007, an estimated 455,636 people were living with AIDS in America (50 states plus the District of Columbia). The highest numbers were in California, Florida, New York State and Texas. Among the 50 states, the lowest numbers were in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
In 2007, the District of Columbia reported a far higher rate of AIDS diagnoses than any other area (though the rate in the wider Washington area was surpassed by other metropolitan areas). A 2009 local government report found the capital city had an HIV prevalence rate of 3%, including figures as high as 7.2% for 40-49 year olds, and 6.5% for black males.1
AIDS diagnosis rates in New York State, Florida and Maryland were much higher than the national average of 12.7 cases per 100,000 population per year.
In the 39 areas that have a history of confidential name-based HIV reporting, an estimated 263,936 people were living with HIV infection that had not progressed to AIDS. This number only includes people whose infection has been diagnosed and reported through the confidential name-based system.
According to the number of AIDS cases reported to the CDC, the 34 states with a history of confidential name-based HIV reporting represent approximately 66% of the US epidemic. For this reason, and because many HIV infections remain undiagnosed (or anonymously diagnosed and unreported) within the 39 areas, the total number of people living with HIV (and not AIDS) in the USA must be much higher.
The CDC estimates that around 1.1 million adults and adolescents are living with HIV in the USA, including those not yet diagnosed, and including those who have already progressed to AIDS. (http://www.avert.org/usa-states-cities.htm)
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Nearly three decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and more than 45 million infections later, North and South have galvanized to sustain their respective positions. Despite so called "globalization' the gap is forever widening in a worldwide economic recession- formulated by the greed of all - profit makers and consumers.
Marie has shared the devastation of what is now our current reality in America and throughout the world. So many have simply blinded themselves by the truth simply because there is now medicine that allows people to live longer lives with this disease. We are ever marching forward in this cause to make a difference and to speak out about the hard fact that this fight is not over. We need everyone's help to reach out to the youth, our friends, the web, TV and Film, country leaders, public icons and those we do not know to make smarter choices. If you feel you can help - please contact us directly and help us say something.
This is the beginning of many posts. Please return on Tuesday's and Thursdays of every week for commentary by Marie, Rance and many VIP's of this public and private world to observe how we move forward in our effort to make a difference and be that VOICE OF CHANGE.
Marie and Rance