Since the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, psychologists have been essential in the response to HIV. They offered mental health support for people living with, or at risk for, HIV—as well as for their families and communities, and those who provide HIV medical care and social services. Psychologists developed programs to educate people about HIV and motivate behavior change to reduce risk.
I was granted the opportunity to attend “Moving Forward with HIV in America: Drawing Strength from Our Past and Empowering Today’s Leaders”, the Office of National AIDS Policy’s final public event during the Obama Administration to help mark World AIDS Day 2016. It was truly an honor to share space in the South Court Auditorium with so many advocates and impactful leaders working to eradicate HIV/AIDS.
October 15th is National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day, and this year’s theme is “We’ll Defeat AIDS con Ganas!” But why is it important to talk about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the Latino community? Latinxs are disproportionally affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—the virus that causes AIDS. Our community represents 17% of the total U.S. population, but accounts for 21% of all new HIV infections and 21% of people living with HIV. In addition, research shows that Latinxs are more likely to receive late diagnosis and HIV care compared to other races and ethnicities.
After the horrific shooting on June 12, 2016 at Pulse, a popular gay bar in Orlando, Florida, many of the victims were in extreme need of blood transfusions. Driven by empathy and solidarity with the victims, gay and bisexual men rushed to area hospitals and blood donation centers to help, along with scores of their Orlando neighbors. Sadly, hundreds identifying as men who have sex with men (MSM) were turned away because current FDA regulations prohibit gay and bisexual men from donating blood unless they abstain from sex with other men for a full year before donating blood.
Although the solid links between the LGBT community and the HIV prevention and treatment communities resulted in a strong show of solidarity after Orlando, there is another reason HIV care providers and educators should be concerned about the shooting and its aftermath: It is an instance of the stigma that can increase the risk of HIV transmission and reduce the ability of people with HIV to fight their disease.
For those who are at high risk for HIV infection, there’s a medical approach that reduces risks of contracting HIV dramatically. It’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. PrEP uses antiretroviral medication (usually Truvada™, a two-drug combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine) to help HIV-negative people stay negative, even if they have sex without a condom with partners whose HIV status is either positive or unknown.
By Alyssa Arentoft, PhD (California State University, Northridge) & Monica Rivera Mindt, PhD (Fordham University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Perhaps nowhere are health and healthcare inequities so glaring as in HIV. […]
By Sarah J. Javier, MS (PhD Candidate in Health Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University) On February 9, President Obama released his proposed budget for FY 2017. The $4 trillion budget included several provisions for research on clean energy, education, and Medicaid. However, for advocates of HIV/AIDS research, one thing was startlingly clear: HIV/AIDS is fast […]
By Leo Rennie, MPA (Senior Legislative & Federal Affairs Officer, APA Public Interest) February 7th marked the annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The day is an opportunity to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and to promote HIV testing in the Black community. Sadly, 35 years into the HIV epidemic the […]
By David Martin, PhD, ABPP (Senior Director, APA Office on AIDS) Charlie Sheen revealed in an interview with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show on November 17, 2015 that he has HIV. Mr. Sheen is very well-known, and different from many, if not most, people with HIV in many ways—he’s rich, he’s famous, and he’s White, […]