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Friday, June 27, 2008

NATIONAL H. I. V. TESTING DAY 2008



Friday, June 27th is recognized as National HIV Testing Day around the world. Experts agree that the best way to slow or stop the HIV epidemic is to know your status. Knowing your status allows you to protect yourself and your loved ones. I urge everyone to get tested if you don't know your status. Urge your friends to get tested....take your partner, lover, husband or wife and get tested together. Everyone should know their HIV status.




BAREBACK THIS…The number of young HOMOSEXUAL men being newly diagnosed with HIV infection is rising by 12 percent a year, with the steepest upward trend we need to do what ever it takes to curb this statistic. This double-digit increase in young gay men is about 10 times higher than in the homosexual community overall, where the number of new infections is going up about 1.5 percent a year. This report suggests that a SECOND WAVE of the AIDS epidemic is underway in gay community. @ This stage we should be the gay men that represent a NEW generation that has not been personally affected by AIDS as those we came before us; however, we are racking up numbers faster than we can put our clothing back on. I only wish that when we see that HIV is on the rise by 15 percent yearly, we need to realize that EPIDEMIC is TOTALLY out of control. There was this study published online last month in the American Journal of Public Health showed that prevention messages tailored for gay black men can work. Researchers recruited "opinion leaders" in the gay communities of three cities in North Carolina. The people were trained to talk to their peers not only about ways to protect themselves from HIV but also about other issues, such as homophobia in some black churches and racism. A year later, the frequency of unprotected high-risk intercourse was down 30 percent in the three gay communities, and the number or people who said they always used condoms were up a similar amount. Though these trends can help with the fight against HIV I feel that we need to show HIV for what it really is; a disease that is hurting this planet. I feel that we need unearth the underbellies of our society and face the REAL truth. We need to get in the trenches and face this enemy head on before it completely invades our lives. The sad thing is that MOST gay men no longer fear HIV and there is an INCREASED apathy over the transmission of the disease. It is as if we believe the virus is unavoidable or that the virus has been controlled, resulting in longer lives for those infected. However, HIV is STILL alive AND well. And this LIVE FOR THE MOMENT thing that GAY men have adopted is fool hearted. SURE, SEX WITHOUT A CONDOM MAY INCREASE YOUR PLEASURE, BUT THE RISKS FAR OUTWEIGH ANY MOMENT OF ECSTASY…A MOMENT OF PLEASURE CAN LEAD TO A LIFETIME OF ILLNESS.

WOMEN & HIV…While there are many unanswered questions about HIV's ongoing spread, one thing is clear: THE HIV VIRUS DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE BETWEEN MEN & WOMEN! Either can be infected, and both can infect others. But there are considerable differences between men living with HIV and women living with HIV. Infection rates and infection prevalence are not the same across the sexes, and there are needs and concerns unique to women living with the disease. Let’s take a look at women and HIV. What are those differences and how do they impact women who live with this disease? Here are some facts:

  • Today, roughly 40 million people worldwide are living with HIV.
  • It’s estimated that 50 percent of those people living with the disease are women.
  • While men still make up the majority of HIV cases in the United States, about 300,000 women are living with HIV.
  • The proportion of HIV cases that are women has tripled from about eight percent to 27 percent since 1985.
  • From 2000 to 2004, the number of men living with HIV has increased by seven percent while the number of women infected has increased 10 percent.

There are some disturbing trends emerging in the world with regard to HIV and women. In this time of increasing HIV infection among women, young women and women of color have been the hardest hit. It’s obvious that women are being impacted by HIV at an alarming rate. But why is this? If HIV does not discriminate, how can this be explained? The sad truth is that women are more vulnerable to HIV infection in many ways. There are vulnerabilities to HIV that are unique to women. These help to account for the differences in infection rates between men and women worldwide. Some of those vulnerabilities include:

  • Physical Differences - Women are especially susceptible to heterosexual transmission physically because the mucosal lining of the vagina offers a large surface area to be exposed to HIV-infected seminal fluid.
  • Easier to Transmit from Men to Women than Women to Men – Again, anatomical differences between men and women mean transmission from men to women is easier than the other way around. Much like the rectal mucosa makes transmission during anal intercourse easier; the mucosal lining of the vagina offers a large surface area to be exposed to infected seminal fluid. Plus, the vagina is more susceptible to small tears and irritation during intercourse than is the penis. These properties offer a portal for HIV to enter the body and infect the woman.
  • Gender Inequities – Especially in developing countries, prevailing gender inequities leads to higher-risk behaviors. For instance, in many cultures women are not free to refuse sex or to insist on safer sex using condoms. Men assume a position of power and control over women, minimizing the amount of input and consent from women. In addition, women have less access to employment and education in these developing countries. Often, the sex trade is one of the few options for women trying to earn money and support themselves and their children. Finally, sexual violence against women is very high in some areas, again exposing them to high-risk behaviors without their consent.

What Challenges Do Women Face? Obviously, HIV impacts anyone who has the disease, whether male or female. An HIV diagnosis, while not a death sentence, will most certainly be a life-changing event. However, there are some challenges that are unique to women:

  • There is an increased risk of reproductive illnesses including vaginal yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer.
  • Because women often have lower incomes than men or work lower paying jobs with minimal benefits, women have less access to HIV care and affordable medical insurance.
  • Women are more likely to postpone health care due to illness or lack of transportation than are men.
  • Women assume more family care responsibilities and are more likely to sacrifice their own health care in order to care for their family, especially their children.

Is Anything Being Done? The disparities between men and women who live with HIV have not gone unnoticed. In fact, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have placed a new emphasis in women-focused HIV research, funding and sponsoring studies around the world. Once such example is the research being done in hopes of developing a microbicide gel or cream that would provide an inexpensive and easy-to-use product that would allow women to assume more control over safer sex. While work is being done to close the gap between men and women, the fact remains that a disparity does exist. Until that gap is closed, we will see infection rates among women continue to climb, something none of us can really afford to let happen.

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