Please join Human Services Center Corporation in honoring National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Tuesday, March 9 at 5:00PM via Zoom. We will discuss women’s sexual health, women and HIV, and healthy living with HIV. RSVP here. If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-436-9537.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently enhanced mail-order delivery options for participants to receive PrEP HIV prevention medication at no cost to eligible individuals without prescription drug coverage. Ready, Set, PrEP participants can choose to have their PrEP medication sent directly to their home or healthcare providers (in participating states) when they enroll or continue to use the more than 32,000 participating co-sponsoring pharmacies.
The option of having PrEP delivered to a preferred location is not only convenient for participants, but it also allows Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities, Tribal Health Programs, and Urban Indian Organizations to provide “one stop shopping” for potential enrollees. They can now get tested, receive their PrEP prescription and get the prescription sent via mail in one visit by enrolling with a healthcare provider’s assistance through GetYourPrEP.com or the call center by calling 855-447-8410.
“This option allows our IHS, Tribal and Urban facilities the ability to provide a wholly integrated service inclusive of HIV testing, PrEP prescriptions and now the ability for our healthcare providers to offer mail-order for Ready, Set, PrEP enrollees,” said Darrell LaRoche, director of the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services at IHS. “The convenience of getting tested, enrolled and prescriptions mailed in one visit, sent to their home or a healthcare provider, is particularly important in Indian Country where a health center or pharmacy may be hours away.”
Researchers from Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, N.C., are turning to a ubiquitous locale — beauty salons — to help raise HIV prevention awareness among Black women in the South. Salons are often considered safe spaces for intimate conversations.
The numbers highlight the stark need: Black women, who make up 13% of the U.S. population, account for 64% of new HIV infections among U.S. women. They also make up 69% of all new HIV infections in the South, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Schenita D. Randolph, PhD, MPH, RN, CNE, and her research partner, Ragan Johnson, DNP, APRN-BC, both assistant professors at Duke University, developed a strategy to help prevent HIV spread in their region by focusing on Black women who have not been exposed to the virus.
The strategy involves training stylists to start conversations about HIV, educating women about HIV prevention, and linking them to prevention medication (pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP).
The research team received two-year funding from Gilead Sciences, which manufactures the HIV prevention medication Truvada, to put a pilot program in place.
Randolph explained that 44% of the people who could benefit from PrEP in the U.S. are African American (500,000). However, only 1% in that group have been prescribed PrEP, despite evidence that if taken once a day it can lower a person’s risk for getting HIV through sex by more than 90%.
In 2018, 37,968 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States (US) and dependent areas. From 2014 to 2018, HIV diagnoses decreased 7% among adults and adolescents. However, annual diagnoses have increased among some groups.
Gay and bisexual men are the population most affected by HIV, with Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino gay and bi men having the highest rates of new infections.
The number of new HIV diagnoses was highest among people aged 25 to 34.
Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018 (updated). HIV Surveillance Report 2020;31.
Previous research has demonstrated that antiretroviral therapy (ART) to suppress HIV prevents perinatal transmission of the virus and benefits the health of both mother and child. In the current study, 3 ART regimens were compared, showing that the regimens containing DTG were more effective in suppressing HIV than a commonly used regimen containing efavirenz (EFV).
Women are missing from PrEP messaging
When most respondents in a population don’t know about a particular medication, that means that the word is not getting out. Although efforts may have gotten better since 2013, the reality is that most women still are not considered in the marketing of PrEP especially among people that have some high-risk activities within their lifestyle.
The parallels of this lack of knowledge continue a legacy of female bias when it comes to sexual health topics. The female condom is one example of a tool that was meant to empower women to protect themselves. However, the commitment by the health community to engrain it in our cultural sexual education failed and it is always seen as an option that men and women don’t fully embrace.
From plus online…
The campaign captures 24 hours in the lives of people affected by HIV stigma, which impacts everyone regardless of age, race, or status. The social media-driven campaign, now in its tenth year, is an opportunity for people to share a moment of their day and tell their story, while breaking down the barriers that stigma creates and raising awareness about HIV, as stated in a press release.
“Stigma can isolate and scare people,” said Positively Aware art director Rick Guasco, who created the campaign. “It can also prevent people from accessing care and treatment. A Day with HIV brings people together; it shows that we’re all affected by stigma, and that people living with HIV are just like everyone else.”
We encourage you to take a picture and post it to your social media with the hashtag #ADayWithHIV and include a caption that gives the time, location, and what inspired you to take the photo.
Images can also be uploaded to ADayWithHIV.com, where they will be considered for publication in a special section of the November/December issue of Positively Aware.
We all know that HIV is no longer a death sentence, but to deny that some people still experience it that way — due to fear, stigma, history, and lack of access — is to miss what happens to young Black men today. The ability to get and stay on treatment, to get to undetectable within weeks, to never transmit the virus and live a normal, healthy life isn’t something you can take for granted if you are a working class person of color in the U.S., much less in a different country (read our feature on HIV-positive asylum seekers from Africa on page 32). If you’re a working class, Black or brown woman with HIV, you know this well too: you may dream of affording the “self-care” everyone recommends for you (massages, acupuncture, vacation) but struggle to pay the rent and buy the kids’ school lunches, much less fork over $50 to feel good for an afternoon.
I’m relieved that my friends who lived are now healthy long-term survivors. I’m thrilled that PrEP uptake has risen almost 500 percent, scientists now universally agree that treatment can make you undetectable (and unable to transmit the virus), and that new research has us closer than ever to a vaccine and a functional cure.
But let’s not forget that while most people today won’t ever see their diagnosis devolve into stage three HIV (formerly known as AIDS), some untreated folks will. Without treatment, AIDS can progress quickly, much like it did in those early years.
Since my diagnosis in 1997, I had lived with fear. Fear of people knowing I was living with HIV. I had never witnessed anyone being mistreated because of their HIV diagnosis, but I still developed this fear I didn’t know where it came from. That’s how powerful stigma is! Society tells you to hide away in shame and disgrace. What am I ashamed of? I’ve asked myself this question many times. After all, I didn’t get HIV because I did something wrong. I didn’t ask for it, neither did I deserve it.
It’s taken a lot of courage for me to come out and speak about living with HIV. Although I’ve always been open with the professionals that support me, only in the last year or so have I dared to disclose my status to strangers, albeit those interested in HIV care, treatment and prevention.
I am a person who has been angered by injustice around the world, but I’ve always felt like I didn’t have the power to do anything about it. It saddens me that we have been talking about HIV stigma for decades now, but we have still to reach a place where people living with HIV do not feel judged or ostracised. Well, I have decided that I will contribute my bit to the campaign to end HIV stigma by coming out and speaking more openly about my experiences of living with the condition.
This is my contribution to a cause that has been championed by many well-known people including Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. I was privileged to work with Avert and Shamal on a video, sharing our experiences of being diagnosed with HIV. Just maybe, the voices of people with ‘lived experience’ will resonate more with everyone. Reading other people’s stories helped me to come to terms with my diagnosis, and I hope our video will help others too!
Black women continue to be diagnosed with HIV at disproportionately high rates relative to white and Hispanic/Latina women, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite recent progress that has seen new HIV diagnoses decrease by 21 percent from 2010 to 2016, black women still accounted for 6 in 10 new HIV infections among women in 2016.
…Prep is one way for black women to protect themselves from the virus.
“When we look at the use of Prep, we find that there are disproportionate uses of the drugs. We find that communities of color use Prep less than other communities. Some are not even aware that Prep is out there,” Angarone said.
…Cost also plays a crucial role in black women seeking treatment. Public health experts believe that making Prep and HIV-treatment medications, such as Truvada, affordable to all populations is vital.
“Cost plays a significant role in women seeking treatment. They want to know that insurance covers it. Insurance coverage for Prep is also important,” Angarone said.
“Ultimately, the health of black women has to be made a priority,” Angarone said.
“We have to ask ourselves as a community, how do we get all of the testing strategies that have been working for other populations in place to bring about similar outcomes to the African American female community?”