The Circle of Healing program at NAHC is now collecting art commemorating Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Artists must be Native and/or Indigenous identified either living with HIV/AIDS OR honoring family, partner, friend, community impacted by or living with HIV/AIDS. Deadline for Submission is March 9th! For questions, please contact Nazbah Tom: NazbahT@nativehealth.org OR (415) 621-4371 x525
AIDS-related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. The consequences of stigma and discrimination are wide-ranging: being shunned by family, peers and the wider community, poor treatment in healthcare and education settings, an erosion of rights, psychological damage, and a negative effect on the success of HIV testing and treatment.
AIDS stigma and discrimination exist worldwide, although they manifest themselves differently across countries, communities, religious groups and individuals. They occur alongside other forms of stigma and discrimination, such as racism, stigma based on physical appearance, homophobia or misogyny and can be directed towards those involved in what are considered socially unacceptable activities such as prostitution or drug use.
Stigma not only makes it more difficult for people trying to come to terms with HIV and manage their illness on a personal level, but it also interferes with attempts to fight the AIDS epidemic as a whole. On a national level, the stigma associated with HIV can deter governments from taking fast, effective action against the epidemic, whilst on a personal level it can make individuals reluctant to access HIV testing, treatment and care.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon says:“Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.”
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Basic errors—such as putting a condom on too late during intercourse or taking it off before intercourse is over—can contribute to breakage or leakage, according to a study in the journal Sexual Health and reported by MSNBC.com. With perfect use, condoms are 98 percent successful. Researchers at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University reviewed 50 studies involving diverse groups, such as married couples and sex workers, over a 16-year period. Between 17 percent and 51.1 percent of participants said they had put on a condom partway through intercourse, which negates protection from sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Richard Crosby, a coauthor of the study, said, “We chronically underestimate how complicated condom use can be.”
“When I tested positive in the spring of 2005 it felt like the end of the world. HIV was this boogie man that I had been taught to hate and fear since before I really understood how sex worked, and suddenly this monster was inside of me. I was sure that I had been handed a death sentence. Not only was I going to die, there was a part of me that wanted to die. Because who could love a man with a monster living inside of him? How could such a man ever find happiness? That was almost seven years ago, and my life clearly isn’t “over.” I have great friends, an adorable dog, and an awesome fella who loves me. But to get here I had to walk a long hard road littered with guilt, depression, and more than a little self destructive behavior. It’s my hope that the advice below, lessons learned the hard way, might make your life a little easier.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) is trying to settle a four-month-old controversy by affirming in its guidelines the safety of injectable hormonal contraceptives, while also cautioning women to use condoms to prevent HIV, PlusNews reports. A WHO investigation into the safety of certain types of hormonal contraceptives was sparked by an October 2011 study in The Lancet that suggested that there may be a twofold risk of HIV among women using progesterone-only birth control, such as Depo-Provera, commonly used in sub-Saharan Africa. After a thorough investigation, a group of experts convened by WHO found the Lancet study inconclusive—specifically, they could find no proven medical link between hormonal contraception and increased HIV risk. However, experts strongly advised women on hormonal contraception to use condoms concurrently to prevent HIV.
It Takes Two
A new initiative called Testing Together aims to use the power of love as an HIV prevention tool. It allows for couples to receive HIV counseling and testing together, at the same time, in the same room—even as the results are given. It’s an idea whose time has come, and one that says a lot about where we are in the U.S. epidemic, as well as in the fight for LGBT equality. Click here for more.
New York City’s health department has cut $19 million from its HIV prevention budget during the past five years and is planning to cut more—despite rising HIV rates among local gay and bisexual young men, Gay City News reports. In addition, Public Health Solutions (PHS), the nonprofit organization administering the city’s HIV prevention programs, attempted to halve the budgets of nine HIV/AIDS groups in December 2011—including groups such as Iris House and Bronx AIDS Task Force, which focus on at-risk groups with rising HIV rates—but PHS reversed course after pressure from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
It’s been pointed out that a few of our Common Excuses to Not Use a Condom could be viable reasons to, in fact, not use a condom. And that’s right!
Not all partners need condoms. Birth control plans and methods of preventing the spread of STIs need to be tailored to suit the needs of the individual and the partnership.
Condoms/internal condoms/dental dams are not used for a variety of reasons. Some examples include but are not limited to situations in which:
- Partners have been tested and are free of STIs.
- Partners are in a committed relationship (keep in mind this does not only apply to partnerships in which there are only two people) and are not being put at risk of contracting HIV/STIs outside of the relationship.
- Partners are not trying to prevent a pregnancy or cannot produce a pregnancy. (not using a condom for this reason could still put someone at risk of contracting an STI. That being said, see the first bullet)
- Partners are using different forms of barrier methods, such as diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges. (these methods alone do not protect against STIs. That being said, see the first bullet)
- A partner is using a hormonal birth control correctly and consistently, including the pill, IUD, depo shot, Ortho-Evra patch, vaginal ring, and Implanon. (hormonal birth control does not protect against STIs. That being said, see the first bullet)
The other reality is: sex does not always occur in situations like the ones listed above, and that’s where condoms/internal condoms/dental dams are essential in protecting one’s health. Some people, regardless of circumstance, simply do not enjoy performing oral sex without a condom or dental dam. Some people just want to have an extra precaution. No matter what, condoms are there as an option!