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Tag: hiv

11
Aug

Know Your Status Sooner

We now offer the Determine™ HIV test, the first rapid test that detects both HIV-1/2 antibodies and the HIV-1 p24 antigen earlier than 2nd and 3rd generation antibody-only tests.

HIV-1 p24 antigen can appear just 12-26 days after infection. HIV-1/2 antibodies first appear significantly later – 20 to 45 days after infection. It enables health care providers to diagnose HIV infection earlier allowing individuals to seek medical care sooner.

What else should you know?

  • It is CLIA waived for fingerstick whole blood.
  • Results in just 20 minutes, which means your appointment shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes.
  • It is reliable: Proved 99.9% overall clinical sensitivity for all sample types.

(Source)

 Click here to schedule your appointment.

4
Aug

What’s The First Thing I Need To Know Before Starting PrEP?

You should know your status!

Before starting PrEP

You must be HIV-1 negative and stay HIV-1 negative before starting a PrEP. That is why you must:

  • Get tested to be sure you are HIV-1 negative. It is important that you also get tested at least every 3 months as recommended by your healthcare provider while on PrEP.
  • Not be on PrEP to reduce the risk of getting HIV unless you are confirmed to be HIV-1 negative.
  • Have no symptoms like feeling weak or tired, fever, sweating a lot (especially at night), rash, vomiting, diarrhea, joint or muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or groin.
  • Be prepared to commit to adopting safer sex practices, such as correct use of condoms, limiting your sexual partners, knowing the HIV status of your sexual partners, and regular testing for HIV-1 (at least every 3 months) and other sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis and gonorrhea.
  • make sure you understand the risks and benefits of taking a PrEP indication, such as Truvada, and you have spoken with your healthcare provider about questions and concerns.

Related posts: (Re) Introducing PrEP

Source: Important Safety Information About TRUVADA for a Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Indication For Uninfected Individuals (Gilead Health Sciences, Inc.)
25
Mar

Why Testing Together Is Important

Concurrent Partnerships and HIV Risk Among Men Who Have Sex With Men in New York City

 

A study in NYC shows that concurrent partnerships are a significant public health concern among men who have sex with men (MSM). The study describes the prevalence of concurrency and its association with serodiscordant/serostatus unknown unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse (SDUI) among MSM in New York City.

 

A total of 1458 MSM completed a social and sexual network inventory about their male and female sex partners, including concurrency, in the last 3 months. Logistic regression identified factors associated with SDUI.

 

29 – The median age of the participants.

23.5% – The proportion of participants who reported being HIV+.

3.2 – The reported mean of male partners in the last 3 months.

16.6% – The proportion of MSM who reported having recent SDUI.

63.2% – Described having concurrent sex partners (individual concurrency based on overlapping dates of relationships).

71.5% –  reported having partners whom they believed had concurrent partners (perceived partner concurrency).

56.1% – reported that both they and their partners had concurrent partners (reciprocal concurrency).

 

Among HIV+ men by self-report, having SDUI was positively associated with individual concurrency, any alcohol use during sex, having more male sex partners, and not having a main partner. Among self-reported HIV− men, having SDUI was positively associated with perceived partner concurrency, lower education level, any alcohol and drug use during sex, having more male sex partners, and having an anonymous partner.

 

Concurrency was common among MSM. The association of SDUI with individual and perceived partner concurrency, along with substance use during sex, having an anonymous partner, and having many sex partners likely further increases HIV acquisition and transmission risk among MSM. HIV prevention interventions should address concurrency among MSM.

 

Ready to get tested? Click here to schedule your appointment.

10
Mar

National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Womenshealth.gov - National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March 10,2014

 

HIV/AIDS is a serious public health issue for women and girls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. Of those people, one in four (25%) is a woman 13 or older. Approximately 27,000 women have HIV but do not know they have the disease.

 

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a nationwide observance that sheds light on the disease’s impact on women and girls.

 

Encourage the women and girls in your life to get tested and know their status. Project HIM offers free & confidential HIV & STD screening here in Central Iowa. Click here to go to our get-tested page to schedule an appointment.

 

Learn more by visiting this website:

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day | womenshealth.gov.

6
Mar

HIV AIDS Study: No transmission with undetectable viral load, gay or straight.

infographic

Viral load suppression means risk of HIV transmission is ‘at most’ 4% during anal sex, but final results not due till 2017.

 

The second large study to look at whether people with HIV become non-infectious if they are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) has found no cases where someone with a viral load under 200 copies/ml transmitted HIV, either by anal or vaginal sex.
Statistical analysis shows that the maximum likely chance of transmission via anal sex from someone on successful HIV treatment was 1% a year for any anal sex and 4% for anal sex with ejaculation where the HIV-negative partner was receptive; but the true likelihood is probably much nearer to zero than this.
When asked what the study tells us about the chance of someone with an undetectable viral load transmitting HIV, presenter Alison Rodger said: “Our best estimate is it’s zero.”
Click here to read an in-depth report

Related topic: FACT SHEET: Undetectable Viral Load

27
Nov

A Gay Man’s Guide To HIV & STD Testing

HIV Testing GuideCLICK HERE FOR A DOWNLOADABLE/PRINTER-FRIENDLY PDF VERSION.

 

CLICK HERE FOR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HIV TESTING.

 

CLICK HERE FOR OTHER RESOURCES.

11
Nov

Fact Sheet: Undetectable Viral Load

By Emily Claymore, San Francisco AIDS Foundation (as posted on BETABlog.org)

 

The term “undetectable viral load” pops up everywhere from lab reports and medical journals to social media and dating apps.

 

Here are some key terms and concepts to help HIV-positive and HIV-negative folks understand and explore what “undetectable” means.

 

Key Terms

  • HIV. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV hijacks cells in your immune system and uses them to replicate (make more copies of itself), destroying those cells in the process.
  • Viral load. Viral load refers to how many copies of HIV are present in a milliliter sample of blood. Viral load testing is a way to estimate how much HIV is in the blood. It is used to monitor immune function and see how well HIV treatment is working.
  • Antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART involves taking medications to keep the virus from replicating in an HIV-positive person’s cells. These drugs thereby decrease viral load.
  • Undetectable viral load. When copies of HIV cannot be detected by standard viral load tests, an HIV-positive person is said to have an “undetectable viral load.” For most tests used clinically today, this means fewer than 50 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood (<50 copies/mL). Reaching an undetectable viral load is a key goal of ART.
  • PrEP. Short for “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” PrEP is an HIV prevention strategy in which HIV-negative people take an oral pill once a day to reduce their risk of HIV infection.

Being Undetectable: Good News

  • You can live a healthier and longer life. Using ART to reach an undetectable viral load means that there is less HIV in your body. Less HIV means less damage to your immune system, allowing you to stay healthier and live longer.
  • You can reduce HIV transmission risk. Studies have shown that HIV-positive people who use ART can reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to their HIV-negative partners by as much as 9296%. More people on effective treatment and with their virus in check means more HIV infections are prevented—an approach called “treatment as prevention.”

A Few Words of Caution

  • “Undetectable” does not mean “cured.” An undetectable viral load means that so few copies of the virus are present in the blood that today’s monitoring tests are unable to detect them. Even with an undetectable viral load, however, an HIV-positive person still has the virus.
  • It’s not impossible to transmit HIV. Your viral load can fluctuate between monitoring tests. This can happen for no known reason, or when you have a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia or gonorrhea, or when ART doses are missed. During these viral load “blips,” the chance of transmitting the virus may be higher. Also, viral load tests only monitor the amount of HIV in the blood, not in semen or vaginal fluid. We do not yet know how much virus needs to be present in body fluids for transmission to be possible.
  • Findings are largely from heterosexual couples. The studies that established ART treatment as effective at reducing HIV transmission by 9296% focused almost exclusively on heterosexual couples. More research is needed to assess whether suppressed viral load has identical benefits for gay and bisexual men and people who inject drugs.
  • New HIV infections continue to increase among gay and bisexual men. Despite the availability of ART and high levels of viral suppression, HIV incidence (the rate of new infections) is rising among gay and bisexual men, for reasons that researchers are investigating.
  • While suppressing the virus to undetectable levels has clear benefits for both HIV-positive and HIV-negative people, treatment as prevention is just one strategy for preventing new HIV infections. Other essential tools for HIV prevention include condoms and lube, sterile syringes for people who inject drugs or hormones, PrEP for HIV-negative individuals, regular HIV testing, self-education about HIV and sexual health, and open communication with sex partners.
14
Jan

Sero-discordant Coupling: Looking after each other in Pos-Neg relationships

A Serodiscordant (sero-discordant) or magnetic relationship is one in which one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative. This contrasts with seroconcordant relationships in which both partners are of the same HIV status (i.e. both are HIV positive or both are HIV negative).

 

Serodiscordant couples face numerous issues not faced by seroconcordant couples, including facing a decision as to what level of sexual activity is comfortable for them, knowing that practicing safer sex reduces but does not eliminate the risk of transmission to the HIV negative partner. There are also potential psychological issues arising out of taking care of a sick partner, and survivor guilt. Financial strains may also be more accentuated as one partner becomes ill and potentially less able or unable to work.

 

Research involving serodiscordant couples has offered insights into how the virus is passed and how individuals who are HIV positive may be able to reduce the risk of passing the virus to their partner.

Here are some of the most recent information and resources regarding sero-discordant coupling.

 

SeroDisco2

 

Is safe sex for gay men in serodiscordant relationships more than just condoms? (pdf)

 

There are no stupid questions say, Nurse Pam (pdf)

26
Jul

Communication – Overcoming Dating Barriers

iStock_000001341102Small“I just know that if it comes out positive I’m going to be alone and lonely for the rest of my life.”

 

As I looked at the young man across from me who spoke those words as he waited for the results of his HIV test, I realized how many times I’d heard that same sentiment – both from persons waiting for their results and from clients that found out their HIV+ status some time ago.  The fear of being lonely and alone is one that most individuals can relate to.  In the search for a relationship and working on improving a relationship, there are always barriers and issues to work on and through.  HIV is just one of those barriers.  But, you know what the most important thing about barriers is?  They can be overcome.

 

In all relationships, communication and knowing your partner are the key factors in overcoming barriers.  Talking about finances, decisions with children, education choices, health choices and all sorts of other life events and factors is immensely important and should be a part of all healthy relationships.

 

As antiretroviral medicines have increased in effectiveness over the years, HIV+ individuals are living long and healthy lives.  As health increases, so does the number of healthy serodiscordant relationships.  Serodiscordant relationships are those where one partner is HIV+ and the other is HIV-.  The term serodiscordant originates from the word “seroconversion”, which is the medical term for becoming HIV positive, and the word “discordant”, which means “at odds”.  These relationships have been able to survive for years with the HIV- person maintaining that status.  Individuals remaining adherent to medication and maintaining undetectable viral loads have a much, much lower chance of transmitting the virus to a partner.  So, when you’re getting involved with a partner who has disclosed their HIV+ status, ask them about their viral load.  Ask them about their medication adherence.  Those are the keys.  Ask.  Communicate.

 

In any relationship, there are many, many things to discuss.  Specifics to discuss in a relationship are as unique as each relationship itself; however, there are some commonalities in all relationships.  We all need to discuss our emotional health in a relationship – talk about our fears of loss and grief if something happens to one of the partners.  We all need to discuss sex – what are both partners comfortable with?  How do we keep safe?  Ask. Communicate.

 

Fears of being lonely and alone are natural and experienced my most individuals; fear of being lonely and alone solely because of your HIV status?  That’s the one that shouldn’t need to exist.  All individuals deserve respect and love and to find that person that makes them happy.  People fall in love with an individual, not a health status.  HIV is just that, a health status, a barrier that can be overcome.  Know your partner, communicate with your partner; those are the keys to any relationship.

 

Related post: Sero-discordant coupling: Looking after each other in a Pos-Neg relationships.

28
Feb

Sex without condoms? You can still reduce your risk!

Condoms are a highly effective way to avoid HIV infection and are the best protection from STDs.
If your condom use is inconsistent or nonexistent, here are some tips to reduce your risk of getting HIV:

Know your status – Get tested regularly for HIV and STDs—even if you don’t have symptoms because most STDs don’t have any symptoms.

Guys with STDs are 5 times more likely to get HIV. (BTW rates of syphilis have increased over 400% in Polk County from 2011 to 2012!)

If you have unprotected sex partners and don’t know their HIV status or they’re HIV-positive*, get tested more frequently than once a year. Click here to assess how often you should test.

Project HIM offers FREE HIV testing, as well as Chlamydia & Gonorrhea screenings. We also provide referral services for other STD screenings, such as Syphilis. Go to our Free Testing page to schedule an appointment.

Discuss HIV status: yours and your partners’ – We understand that having THAT conversation isn’t fun. But it’s important! Some guys have found that telling their status empowers others to do the same. However you choose to do it, discuss your status with partners BEFORE things get too hot & heavy!

Remember, you’re not at risk for HIV if you and your partner(s) are all HIV-negative or if you and your partner(s) are all HIV-positive.

Bottoming puts you at greater risk for HIV than topping – The membrane inside your anus is sensitive and easily torn (the tears may be microscopic). During anal sex, it’s easier for HIV and other STDs (if present) to be transmitted because of this. If you are the bottom, take precautions to keep yourself safer.

See the tips below and check out BarebackHealth.Net  And if you’re taking loads, it increases your risk for HIV. If you are the bottom and your partner ejaculates inside you, it puts you at more of a risk if you don’t know their status or they’re HIV-positive*.

By not taking loads or taking precautions if you do (see next tip), it will help to decrease the risk of getting a HIV/STDs.

Medications such as PrEP and PEP can reduce risk for HIV. – PrEP is a single pill called Truvada taken once daily before potential exposure to HIV in order to prevent HIV infection in people who are at high risk of getting HIV.

Read this previous Ask Our Experts entry.

Check out these resources to learn more —and consider talking to your health care provider to see if this is an option for you.

Love May Have Another Protector

My Life on PreP – Positive Frontiers 

My PreP Experience

Is Taking PrEP the Right Choice for You?

PEP (or Post-exposure Prophylaxis) taking anti-HIV drugs as soon as possible after potential exposure to HIV in order to reduce the chance of becoming HIV-positive. It consists of taking antiretroviral medications (HIV meds) for 28 days.

To be effective, it must be started within 72 hours of potential exposure to HIV. Click here or check out PEP411.com for more information about PEP.

*Along with PreP and PEP, there is Treatment as Prevention.

HIV-positive partners can greatly reduce their risk of passing on HIV to their sexual partners by regularly taking HIV medication.

Learn more here: HIV Treatment As Prevention or Positive Frontiers.

31
Aug

I’m In a Relationship: We Don’t Use Condoms!

Many of us have accepted condoms as part of our sex life when we’re having casual sex outside of relationships, but it’s not unusual for guys who usually use condoms to stop using them when they get serious in a relationship.

 

Whether the relationship is monogamous or not, some guys feel that they’re willing to accept the risk of not using condoms with the person they’re in a relationship with, especially if they have an agreement about what kind of sex happens outside of the relationship. This is sometimes called ‘negotiated safety’.
When you agree to give up condoms, you’re also giving up some control over managing your own risk. That requires having a lot of trust in your partner.

 

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering negotiated safety.

  • Talk about it first. A decision to drop condom use in your relationship requires open and honest talk about what kind of relationship each partner truly wants, and discussion about each other’s HIV status, now and in the future.
  • Condomless sex is not an expectation in any relationship, regardless of length, seriousness or commitment. Don’t feel pressured into giving up condoms if you don’t want to.
  • Don’t feel pressured into a type of relationship you don’t want either. Don’t pressure your partner into a relationship he doesn’t want, whether it’s monogamous or non-monogamous. Be aware what an abusive relationship looks like, and that most people in abusive relationships deny it. Click Here for more information.
  • Make your agreement with your partner clear and practical in terms of what kind of sex is allowed and with whom, and what consequences there will be that are realistic for both partners.
  • Get tested for HIV and other STIs. Be sure you’re making this decision based on the most up-to-date information. Keep getting tested on a regular basis.
  • Know all the risks. Maybe your agreement includes condom use with others only when you’re fucking. That reduces your risk for HIV, but you’re still at risk for other STIs that can be transmitted through oral sex.
  • Be prepared to start using condoms again. You might break your agreement with your partner. You might do something risky. You might have sex with others even though you agreed not to. In this situation, you’ll need to find a way to tell him so you can both re-negotiate your safety. So talk to your partner about what you’ll do if either one of you slips up, or suspects that he has an STI.
  • Breaking an agreement doesn’t mean the relationship is over. Be willing to extend the same understanding to your partner that you would expect extended to yourself. If your partner tells you that he has broken your agreement, it could be because he cares about you and doesn’t want to put you at risk.
  • You might not know what your partner is actually doing. Sometimes we make assumptions that our partners are monogamous or non-monogamous. Sometimes we break agreements. Sometimes he won’t tell you. Are you willing to accept the risk?

Gay and bi guys have pioneered new ways of thinking about sexual and romantic relationships. Whether a guy wants to be monogamous or non-monogamous, neither is a reflection of his commitment to his relationship. Some guys find it difficult to sustain monogamous relationships over the long-term, so opening up the relationship to other sexual partners can be a way for them to preserve the relationship.

 

Source:  The Sex You Want

30
Apr

Shortsighted

Ryan Bergby guest contributor: Ryan Berg.
When I met Charles, I’d recently moved back to Des Moines from New York City, a stop-off, I’d intended, on my way out west. I sat in a coffee shop getting some work done when my mind began to wander. I logged on to a smart phone social networking application designed for gay men, and received a message from Charles, a college freshman.
 
We exchanged pictures, made small talk, and before long he got to the point: He was eager to meet right away. He didn’t mince words about what he wanted.
I might have been drawn to his youthful longing. Maybe I was acting out because being back in Iowa felt suffocating to my sexuality, or maybe his boldness triggered my own desire. Whatever the reason, I met with him. And not only did we have sex; we had it without a condom. I knew better. Here was a person I’d been acquainted with for less than an hour. We’d exchanged little more than first names, and yet I still found myself jumping into risky territory.
I’d broken a rule of contemporary gay life. As long as I’ve been having sex, it’s been understood: Don’t endanger your sexual health. Everyone knows it’s a death wish.
 
But Charles seemed fine with our slip, almost encouraged it. There were moments during our rendezvous where I could have interjected, impressed upon him the inherent dangers of unprotected sex; I could have shaken us both from the irrational haze of our desire. I could have grabbed a condom.
I can’t blame my lapse in judgment on drugs, alcohol, or the shame of being in the closet. I’m educated about HIV/AIDS, having worked with queer youth in New York and volunteered for both the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Housing Works. I get tested regularly, and have been scrupulous about maintaining my HIV negative status. I know the studies; have researched articles about the resurgent HIV epidemic, climbing syphilis rates, new drug-resistant strains of Chlamydia. So why would I chance my sexual health for this brief encounter with Charles?
 
Risk is a relative notion. Perhaps I qualified my safety by being in the Midwest where the numbers of HIV infections are lower. Or, because of Charles’ age, and my assumption that he hadn’t had many sexual partners, my risk was lessened. Whatever the calculation, I felt daring enough to engage in a way contrary to my knowledge of the subject.
 
The more I talked to young men on the smart phone application, both closeted and out, the more apparent it was to me that the younger generation of men who have sex with men in Iowa– like most places across the country– were willing, and often times preferred, to engage in unprotected sex.
 
When considering risk, public health professionals tend to focus on how rational or irrational a choice is based on the information available. Rarely is it considered how emotions, our sense of self, can alter our decisions. It’s easy to isolate a situation like Charles and mine, and examine it, define it as a momentary lapse of reason. How else could such careless behavior be explained? But new studies show that nearly 50% of gay men using hook up smart phone applications engage in unprotected sex regularly. Momentary lapses are becoming habitual, repeated behaviors.
 
I grew up watching AIDS patients wasting away on television, and listening to the cries for action by activists as they faced social indifference and political neglect. Witnessing the near-death frailty of once youthful men on TV frightened a whole generation soon to come out of the closet into being meticulous about sexual safety. Later, as anti-retroviral therapies became available, and the lives of those living with AIDS were prolonged, a belief seemed to permeate queer culture. Sex, it appeared, was losing its danger. Youth have become more brazen, often times ignoring a host of complications that come with living with AIDS. One young man I spoke with recently shrugged when I asked about his habitual unsafe sexual practices. He told me it wasn’t a big deal if he tested positive, it’s no longer a death sentence.
 
People are living with the disease, true, but people are dying too. Even when you’re able to pay for the medication, a litany of problems can arise. The drugs can having serious side-effects, particularly in advanced disease; if patients miss doses, drug resistance can develop; providing anti-retroviral treatment is costly and resource-intensive, and the majority of the world’s infected individuals can’t access treatment services; individuals who fail to use anti-retrovirals properly can develop multi-drug resistant strains which can be passed onto others.
 
Results from a recent review confirm that HIV-positive adults are at a higher risk for developing cancer than the general population. In particular, people with HIV are about four times more likely to develop cancer than people without HIV and are slightly more likely to develop cancer than people who have had an organ transplant.
AIDS education has seemed to wane from public discourse and prevention instruction seems sequestered to HIV testing sites. Remember the days when red ribbons were fastened to the lapels of a host of public figures, serving as a reminder of the epidemic?
 
Luckily, we might see the reappearance of such reminders this year. Films like the Academy Award nominated How to Survive a Plague, and Jim Hubbard’s United in Anger: A History of ACT UP, are bringing AIDS awareness back into focus.
 
Young men who have sex with men need to grapple with, and face the facts these films present.
 
Youth can be perilous without support and education. As men of a generation that remembers the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, there is a need to reach out to our younger counterparts. Gay male mentors are nearly nonexistent for young men. Most men, myself included, have allowed desires to dictate interactions with younger men. As a result, many like Charles get terribly lost before coming to a healthy, integrated sense of self. Now it’s time to step up, to present ourselves, and our knowledge, in hopes of making the lives of our youth a little less lonely and a lot safer.
26
Sep

New Testing Hours Starting October 1st!

New Clinic Hours

5
Jul

Message from Greg- July 2013

Greg - HIV Program DirectorProject HIM debuted Troy’s video at Pride. In the video, Troy shared that someone he slept with had been with an HIV + partner and that he was nervous about the possible risk of HIV. What wasn’t shared was that Troy was nervous because he’d slipped up and had sex without a condom with the guy he slept with.

This omission caused a stir on Project HIM’s Facebook page. Some comments on Facebook made it clear that there were people living with HIV that were hurt by the content of the video. A few of the comments became heated to the point where battle lines were drawn between those who are HIV-positive and those who work to prevent HIV. (To read all the comments, see the June 9th post on Project HIM’s Facebook page. Link)

Divisiveness hurts us all.

We apologize to those who were hurt by the video. Project HIM staff care about people –whether you’re positive, negative, or don’t know your status. In response to the expressed hurt, the video was temporarily disabled.

Truth be told, there’s more to the video. Another segment that explains Troy’s slip ups and gives some background about Troy isn’t through with our videographer’s refinements yet. When it is, the two segments of the video will be presented together.

Notably, all the videos produced by Project HIM and any educational materials we distribute undergo a mandatory review process by the Materials Review Committee for the Iowa Department of Public Health. In addition, Project HIM’s advisory committee, a group of gay men of various ages, professional backgrounds, and varying HIV status, review and provide feedback on each video’s content.

Inevitably though, questions still surface: How do we react when the personal stories shared by others aren’t exactly how we (as HIV prevention staff) think we might respond (armed with the knowledge and experience of working in the field of HIV prevention)? Do we jump in and explain—or uphold the dignity and worth of each person’s story —as it is? There’s no perfect answer.

Each misstep is an opportunity for healing and change.

Project HIM hopes to make the hurt and anger —the underlying passion—a starting place for conversation. Do we have to stigmatize HIV in order to prevent HIV? How can we work together as a community? These are the questions we’d like to discuss at a forum this fall that brings together HIV prevention, HIV care, those living with HIV, and those who are not. We can’t move forward together if we don’t tackle the thorns that keep hurting us.

Before Troy’s story was debuted, Project HIM and its advisory committee developed the summer campaign “Know Pride. Know your status.” We wanted to take away the stigma of HIV status and emphasize the importance of knowing what your status is. A disproportionate amount of new HIV infections happen because of those who have HIV but don’t know it. People who are HIV +, know that they are, and are getting treatment, aren’t spreading the virus and chances are they’ll live a long and healthy life—just as Troy astutely notes at the end of his second video.

Pride is knowing. Pride is taking charge of your health—whether you’re negative or positive. At this critical time in history, having experienced the repeal the of DOMA, what better to do than to take pride in who we are and push the stigmas we’ve all felt to the periphery—while we move toward the center. Where we can stand united.