This is Public Health

Dr. Russell Brewer, Director of HIV, STDs, and Reproductive Health at LPHI, recently wrote a blog post detailing the MSM Global Forum pre-conference from his perspective. While his post can currently be found on the AIDS United site, Stay Healthy Louisiana is pleased to share his words with our readers.

“The theme of the MSM Global Forum pre-conference held on July 21, 2012 was “From Stigma to Strength.” This theme could not be more fitting given that MSM from all corners of the world experience stigma, homophobia, criminalization, and discrimination in their everyday lives. These experiences affect their ability to access HIV prevention, care, and treatment services. The MSM Global Forum pre-conference began with an announcement by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) that she has introduced a new bill called “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act of 2012″ that lays out a policy and financial framework to creating an AIDS- free generation in the United States and worldwide. It’s great to see policy makers taking a leadership role in ending the HIV epidemic.

The introduction of the next speaker (the Hon. Michael Kirby with the Global Commission on HIV and the Law) by Robert Suttle, Assistant Director of the SERO project (www.seroproject.com) provided a face and story of an individual (Robert Suttle) who was convicted and incarcerated in Louisiana for HIV non-disclosure. I’ve read about HIV criminalization and how it perpetuates stigma but I’ve never actually heard a story from someone who was impacted by this law. The presentation that followed by the Hon. Michael Kirby really hit home for me in terms of the devastating impact of HIV among MSM not only in the United States but also globally and how laws that criminalize MSM will continue to fuel the epidemic. For example, Michael Kirby mentioned that 60% of new infections in the world are among MSM and fewer than 10% of MSM worldwide have access to treatment and preventive services. In addition, 41 of 54 countries that are part of the Commonwealth still criminalize MSM. We need leadership, education, and mobilization to help repeal these laws.

Later on during the day, Maurice Tomlinson, Legal Advisor with AIDS Free World gave the first Robert Carr Memorial Lecture to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the late LGBT activist Dr. Robert Carr.  Maurice describes himself as an accidental activist.  He actually wanted to be a patent lawyer but instead ended up being an advocate for all forms of marginalization that provide a safe harbor for HIV.  Maurice talked about his efforts to challenge the anti-buggery (male same sex intimacy) law in Jamaica.  In a recent survey, 82% of Jamaican people indicated that they were prejudiced against gay people. Maurice mentioned that in order for the law to be repealed, there needs to be ground swell support in the country and for the last few years, he and other activists have embarked on a plan to change the hearts and minds of Jamaicans through public education, walks and stands for tolerance, and other strategies. His presentation could not have stressed more the importance of challenging and repealing  human rights violations in order to end stigma and discrimination; and create safer and more tolerant environments that enhance access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care services.”

A report released Tuesday by the National Center for Health Statistics showed the teenage birth rate for American teenagers fell 9% from 2009 to 2010. The national level, 34.3 teenage births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15-19, is the lowest since 1946.

The rates dropped across all racial and ethnic groups, and nearly all states.

Check out the full article on CNN’s website.

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The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals STD/HIV Program and the Black AIDS Institute kick off their week-long “Louisiana > Aids Testing Tour, on the Road to the Essence Music Festival” in time for National HIV Testing Day (June 27) and Essence Music Festival. With free and confidential HIV screenings held in six cities, the tour will raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS in black communities, encourage testing, and fight the stigma associated with STDs and HIV. Attendees will also have the chance to win a five day cruise and Essence Music Festival tickets. For more information on National HIV Testing Day events or locations for HIV screening, contact the Louisiana Statewide STD/HIV/AIDS information hotline at 1-800-99AIDS9 (or 1-800-992-4379) or visit www.hiv411.org/.

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The Test 1 Million campaign kicked-off a Louisiana tour on Sunday, June 27 in Shreveport, and will travel around the state this week providing free HIV testing in African-American communities. The tour is run by the Black AIDS Institute and the Louisiana Office of Public Health and is part of a national campaign to promote HIV testing, personal knowledge about HIV status, and action towards eliminating the disease. The tour will make stops in Alexandria, Lake Charles, Opelousas, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Click here to read more. Click here for a flyer with dates and locations of each tour stop.

December 1st is World AIDS Day

December 1st, 2009

Today is World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about HIV and AIDS around the world. In 2006, Louisiana ranked 5th highest in AIDS case rates and 12th in the number of AIDS cases diagnosed – Baton Rouge and Greater New Orleans continue to lead the rest of the state in HIV/AIDS-related rates. Getting tested and knowing your HIV status is crucial. This site allows you to find a testing center in your area by zip code.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that almost 40 percent of people infected with HIV are unaware of their condition until it develops into AIDS. In Louisiana, six parishes are among 72 counties across the country with the highest rate of people living with HIV or AIDS. Early detection of the disease is important because it allows for more effective treatment options. Watch the video above for advice about getting tested and visit this page to enter your zip code to find HIV testing locations in your part of the state.