Hot Summer Sex, Hook Ups and Protecting Yourself Is Easy!!!

The summer is almost over and it’s been a hot one. Heat and sex seem to go hand in hand especially when it comes to causal sex. It’s easy to hookup with someone after an informal dinner, while at the club or at a friend’s BBQ. But, if you’re not careful, hooking up can be dangerous! Those who are hooking up or just having causal sex are more than likely sharing or overlapping sexual partners. In the article by Linda Villarosa, The Dark Side of Hookups, “Friends With Benefits” and F— Buddies, “These partnerships can speed the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” Dr. Paik says. “With sequential partnerships, the disease has to wait before it can spread. Between relationships, for example, a bacterial infection can be treated. With overlapping relationships, the disease doesn’t have to wait.” When you are hooking up with several different partners and not practicing safe sex, you have a greater chance of becoming infected. It’s not always easy to remember to use a condom while in the heat of the moment.  Therefore, being prepared is crucial to protecting your sexual health. Carrying condoms, is not cocky, it’s smart! It’s better to have a condom and not use it if you don’t need it, then to be caught without one when you really need it. No longer can we make assumptions about a person’s status by just eyeballing them. The tell tale signs of someone being positive rarely exist now. You won’t know just by looking at someone or assuming that because he or she is cute then they couldn’t be infected.

One good way to protect yourself, is to always use a condom when having sex. A percentage of people who become infected usually got it by another person who didn’t know they were infected. Condom use can be one of the best ways to protect yourself. Knowing your own status is also important in not only protecting yourself, but protecting your sexual partner. As noted in the article, in regards to the high infection rates in D.C., “Nearly 50 percent of people surveyed in its hardest-hit areas reported having overlapping sexual partners in the last 12 months. Most were not aware of either their own HIV status or that of their partner, and the vast majority said that they did not use a condom the last time they had sex with their main partner, even though they were aware that the relationship might not be monogamous. This deadly mix explains why a Black woman, for example, who doesn’t “sleep around” might contract HIV, while someone else engaged in frequent episodes of unprotected sex might not become infected.” Taking a HIV test is now considered one of the best prevention methods against becoming infected. Assuming that one test positive then they can get treatment and learn how to care for themselves as well as prevent infecting someone else by not spreading the virus from one person to another. And, if they test negative, then they learn to stay negative through preventive measures and condom use.

Practicing safe sex is easier said than done. It’s no easier than staying off salt, not drinking too much or watching your weight when all your favorite foods are available. These are all things that we struggle with, but not taking the proper precautions can be dangerous and in some cases deadly. Its takes practice, a concerted effort and a commitment to be healthy, the same goes for your sexual health when you practice safe sex. Make it a habit like brushing your teeth, cleaning your house or watching your weight. Keep a condom on you for those special unexpected encounters. If you are having casual sex, make sure your sexual partner(s) gets tested. Get tested with them, if it will make them feel more comfortable and less stigmatized. If they are not willing to get tested or provide information on their status, they might not be the person you wanna have sex with. Its is also important for you to be tested and provide information on your own status. To find an HIV testing location in your area, visit www.hivtest.org.

Whether it’s a holiday weekend, a hot Summer night or a beautiful Fall evening, always be prepared. High and low risk sex is all the same when it comes to HIV and STDs. Every time you have unprotected sex, you are at risk of getting infected.  It only takes one careless moment to change your life. Wrap it up and be safe.



Having the “SEX” conversation with your parents

If you are like me, you may only have one living parent or your parents might be divorced. Either way, they may be newly single, dating and engaging in sexual relationships years after being with the same partner. Many older Americans are not aware, much less concerned about practicing safe sex despite the changing sexual landscape. The development of Viagra and other ED (erectile dysfunction) drugs has made it easier for seniors to celebrate and express their sexuality, which is the upside to ED drugs. But there is a downside, as described in the article, Men of ED drugs get more STDs, “Men prescribed drugs for erectile dysfunction are two to three times more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly HIV or chlamydia, than men who are not prescribed ED treatments, researchers report.”

As a result of these ED drugs, many senior men are now able to have a lot of sex with women their own age, but they are also engaging in sexual relationships with younger women, even with teenage girls, mostly in exchange for money, clothes or basic affection. In addition, older women are also having relationships with younger men, who themselves maybe offering sex in exchange for money or clothes. In this landscape of sexual freedom, most seniors don’t practice safe sex and are not familiar with HIV/AIDS awareness. According to the previously mentioned article by Katrina Woznicki from WebMD Health News, “Earlier research has found that people aged 50 and older are one-sixth less likely to use a condom and one-fifth less likely to be tested for HIV compared with people in their 20s.”

Therefore, many AIDS organizations are rushing to work with senior centers to provide safe sex information and HIV/AIDS education. But, more needs to be done as infection rates increase. A wide spread effort is needed that incorporates the church, family and healthcare providers. Doctors should be managing and assessing the sexual health risks and sexual activity of their older patients, including testing them for HIV. A similar discussion about sexual health risks can be held with the Women and Men ministries along with other church groups with the assistance of organizations like Balm in the Gilead and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, two organizations that already have established relationships with the Black church. Finally, adult children should talk to their parents as soon or even before they start dating about the importance of condom use and the practice of safe sex. The same “sex” talk that was hard for them will also be hard for you but will be necessary in protecting your parent’s sexual health.

We can’t leave our seniors out of the discussion, when they need us the most to provide guidance, love and support. Have that talk with your mother or father,let them know you care. It will be one of the hardest talks but could be the most rewarding.



Moving Upward and Onward: The documentary and the HIV/AIDS movement

What’s going on!

There have always been times when we were at a political or cultural crossroads. When we should be focusing on some issues and other things take over. In midst of the White House Summit on AIDS and its Impact on Black Men, the World Cup took over the media’s attention. When we should have been lining up for the National HIV Test Day or attending Iris House’s Women as a Face of AIDS Summit, LeBron James fever began.  Even on the day of the Oscar Grant verdict , the King James press conference for his next multi guzillion dollar deal took over the airwaves. Now, a CDC report which has been recently released during the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, has determined that race and poverty is linked to HIV infections in the African American community. This report, as well as the first ever National Action AIDS Plan developed out of the White House, was released with little fan fare outside the HIV/AIDS community. In relations to poverty, the CDC reports, “It has always been driven by social determinants of health: socioeconomic status, high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, high rates of incarceration, man sharing (knowingly and unknowingly) due to gender imbalances, lack of access to healthcare, lack of a regular health provider and low HIV literacy. These overlap significantly with the issues driving the AIDS epidemic in poor communities of all races.”

So what do we with all this information and how do we maximize it. How do we develop clarity in the midst of all this chaos??? We take a deep breath, move a step back and then push on through. We push on, when folks don’t want to listen, when you feel like you are not getting through, when funders don’t get it and when the film community fails to see the value and importance of your project, with all that you keep pushing through.

Where are we at now!

We launched our website during the week of the National HIV Test Day in late June of 2009. Now, one year later and through a combination of our website, our Facebook page and our Twitter page, we have posted several blogs, articles and links related to the AIDS epidemic globally, nationally and locally. We’ve also worked hard to provide you with update to date information about research and studies relating to HIV/AIDS in communities of color. And we will continue to do so.

Where do we go from here!

What you can expect in the next few months is a change in title of our documentary, an online fundraising campaign in the Fall and a few fundraising events. We will be adding more clips to all our media portals and hopefully, more photos as well. Many events happened throughout the AIDS community this summer and we want to plug you into the discussion. Therefore, we also hope to be partnering with more AIDS organizations as well, so you, our supporters are part of the national dialogue on not only HIV/AIDS but other issues related to the epidemic. This way, we can get a full picture of this disease and how it connects to other areas in the lives of people of color. You can also expect us to continue to provide more articles and AIDS prevention and awareness information. AIDS awareness is crucial, especially as it is estimated that more than one million people are living with HIV in the USA and that more than half a million have died after developing AIDS. According to Avert.org, “During the 1990s, the epidemic shifted steadily toward a growing proportion of AIDS cases among black people and Hispanics and in women, and toward a decreasing proportion in MSM, although this group remains the largest single exposure group. Black people and Hispanics have been disproportionately affected since the early years of the epidemic. In absolute numbers, blacks have outnumbered whites in new AIDS diagnoses and deaths since 1996, and in the number of people living with AIDS since 1998.”

So how can you help???

Share the information that we offer, even if it doesn’t speak to you, you never know how it might touch or inform another person. We find, because of shame and stigma, a person may not share their status. Also, someone who is not infected, might not think about how the virus might affect them.  So, keeping our community informed about some of the most basic information can help save a life.

Spread the word about the documentary, encourage a friend, associate or family member do one or all three of the following:

1. Become a Fan on our Facebook for Seen, But Not Heard

2. Join our website http://theuntoldwar.urbanmediawarrior.com/

3) Follow us on Twitter at UrbanMediaWarrior

And lastly, let’s us know how we are doing. The best way to keep us on our toes and help us improve, is to talk to us. Let us know if you like what we are doing or if the information we are providing is connecting to you. Help us serve you better. When you communicate to us, it not only helps give you more of what you want but it also demonstrate to funders and the power brokers that we are reaching our audience and they are hungry for information that is intelligent and respectful. Let them see that there is value in our work and the resources we provide. Talk to us, so we can talk to them!

We can do this! We can put a dent in this disease! We can help lower the infection rates, we can help get more people tested and into treatment, if necessary. We can work together to save our lives! So, let get to work!!! And thanks for your support!



The Black Church and AIDS

Is it too late for the Black Church to be a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS???



Relationships 101 – Should you be able to sue your partner’s lover ???

As we seek to engage folks on issues around sexual behavior, we thought there is no better way to talk about sex than that to start an ongoing dialogue about relationships and how we communicate with each other. In that vein, there was a story a few weeks back regarding Dwyane Wade’s wife suit against Gabrielle Union on behalf of her sons for the emotional distress their relationship put on their children and her as the estranged wife.

Should a wife/husband/partner be able to sue the other person assuming that a marriage or union is a contract between two people and another person enters to break that contract ???

Gabrielle Union



Women, Girls & HIV: Why Stella Has To Watch How She Gets Her Groove On!

In addition to being Women’s History Month, March also hosted National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10th. Events were organized around the country by national and local community groups and AIDS organizations throughout the month. According to womenshealth.gov,” National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) is a nationwide initiative celebrated on March 10 every year to raise awareness of the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.” It also notes that, “Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States. More and more women have become infected with HIV since it was first reported in the early 1980s. Today, about 1 in 4 Americans living with HIV are women. It’s time for women to get tested.” In addition to the information above, the website also made it possible to view all events scheduled around the country, allowed one to send free e-cards and locate HIV/AIDS resources.

One would wonder why such a national event was important or necessary, well despite all the public awareness campaigns the infection rates of women, especially women of color, are still increasing. In 2005, women represented 26 percent of new AIDS diagnoses, compared to only 11 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 1990. Most women are infected with HIV through heterosexual contact and injection drug use. Women of color are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34.

Until the infection rates of women drop significantly, all and every effort is necessary to send the message that women need to protect themselves and be tested. In my effort to stay aware, I attended a few events during the month. One was hosted by the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition in NYC at the New Lots Public Library in Brooklyn. I took away a lot of good information from this event. It was noted that we all must treat everybody that we encounter as someone who has something we can catch. And although, that seems harsh and even paranoid, think about the times you got sick from someone at work who had a cold or the flu and wouldn’t stay home and get better. The same happens in sexual relationships, people have unprotected sex knowingly or not that they are infected or have an STD and pass what they have on to you.  It certainly doesn’t mean treating someone like a leper, but what it does mean is that an once of prevention can make a big difference in how you live out the rest of your life. Being safe is much better than being sorry!!!

Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition HIV/AIDS awareness day event

Another point that was extremely significant was the importance of teaching young women how to be financial stable and independent. Young women need to develop marketable job skills, acquire work experience, learn how to write a resume and get a good education. It would seem like common sense for some but when young women are financially dependent on someone else they tend to compromise their themselves for money and security. Most young women who become infected are not from men of their own age but by much older men. If they are thrown out the house or desire material objects they become dependent and vulnerable to older men who take advantage of them. It’s not uncommon for a girl 14yrs old to be sexually involved with a man more than twice her age. Teaching young women critical thinking and survival skills increases their chance of becoming financially stable and less likely to be involved in a sexually abusive relationship.

Another event, “Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with,” was held on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall and hosted by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The stairs leading to the entrance of Borough Hall was filled with dolls representing all ethnicities and races with notes on the stating who they were Several presenters including the NYC Comptroller John Liu and the President of GMHC, Marjorie Hill spoke.

Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with

"Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with"

The last event was Well & Aware: Women and Girls Taking Charge of their Lives, Responding and Reflecting on HIV/AIDS at the National Black Theater in Harlem. This event was sponsored by The Partnership for Family Health: Northern Manhattan HIV Consortium (PFFH), a program of Public Health Solutions and Harlem community partners such as Iris House, Harlem United Community AIDS Center, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and Sister Link/Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership (NMPP), as well as other. Funding was received from the HHS/Office of Women’s Health. This was a huge event that offered everything from HIV testing, STI screening and Blood pressure screenings to massages, make overs and a safe sex workshop. All the community sponsors tabled the event and provided materials from their organizations along gifts and the usual safe sex kits. It was packed by what some of the organizers noted was the power of social networking. C.Viriginia Fields, President of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS provided the Keynote Address. Community Advocate and AIDS activist Michelle Lopez and Ingrid Floyd, Executive Director of the Iris House were also scheduled to speak. In my many years of attending workshops, panel discussions and community events this had one of the largest turnouts and was the most interactive. There was a lot to see, do and hear. And was happy to see folks into it.

I bring these events up and the importance of the National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day because it reminds us that we are still in a state of crisis and that we must stay vigilant outside of these national awareness days. When the women at the GMHC rally yelled, “Women are not dolls, our lives are nothing to play with,” they meant it. Now we all need to stop playing with our lives and get real about protecting it.




National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 10, 2010 – National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
This month we are highlighting National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day! According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Black women represent an alarming 65% of the total number of women currently living with HIV/AIDS in the US, and are 20 times more likely to acquire HIV than white women. NYC continues to lead the nation in the number of reported AIDS cases among 13-24 year olds.

Visit YWCHAC’s (Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition) website to see what we are doing in our community. Visit www.ywchac.org

What Can You Do?

  • Get tested for HIV.
  • To find a testing site center near you, text your ZIP Code to KNOW IT (566948).
  • Talk with your health care provider about your risks for HIV.

Get the facts about HIV/AIDS including:

  • The risk factors for acquiring HIV.
  • How to avoid high-risk behaviors.
  • How to practice safer methods to prevent HIV.

* Talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues.
* Invite friends to join the cause.
* Volunteer at a local organization that serves people living with HIV.
* Attend an event near you.
* Learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS among women in the United States.
* Stand up against stigma, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
* Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations like YWCHAC.

Self Love Is The New Sexy – Knowing Your Status Is Power!

For more information, visit the following sites:
www.ywchac.org

www.cdc.gov/features/WomenGirlsHIVAIDS/

www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/

Upcoming Events

5th Annual Women As The Face of AIDS Summit

The 5th Annual Women As The Face of AIDS Summit is only 4 months away. This year’s event has been expanded to 2 days -Thursday, June 24 & Saturday, June 26 to coincide with National HIV Testing Day. It promises to be two wonderful days of informative sessions and exciting topics such as parenting while positive, the impact of incarceration on HIV rates, housing stability, mental health & treatment adherence, what the faith based communities are doing and much more. Saturday’s Community Awareness Day will include free health screenings and giveaways for members of the community. Once again the summit will take place at the New York Academy of Medicine. Please visit our website for updates or contact Kimberly Richardson at 646 548-0100 ext. 221 or krichardson@irishouse.org for more details.

WELL AND AWARE

Iris House served over 1400 women in 2009; encouraging both women and girls to get tested. We conducted 2171 Rapid HIV test and distributed over a million condoms.

Iris House will recognize this important day by participating in an event sponsored by the Partnership for Family Health taking place at the National Black Theater located at 2031 5th Avenue (between 125th & 126th) on Friday, March 12th from 5pm -10pm. They will provide HIV testing, substance abuse and mental health screenings.

Sponsored in part by: NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

LOVE YOUR HEART

On Tuesday, March 16, Iris House in collaboration with the Black Women’s Health Imperative is co-sponsoring a community forum exploring the link between heart disease and HIV. This event targeting HIV+ women will be held at the New York Academy of Medicine from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Speakers include Dr. Monica Sweeney of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Anna LeMon, MPH, of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, Shirley Alves, R.D., Director of Nutrition Services at Iris House and an afternoon breathing and relaxation demonstration by Terri Kennedy, motivational speaker. Lunch will be provided. If you would like more information or to RSVP contact Shirley Alves at 646-548-0100 *201.

To learn more about these events and future activities visit us at www.irishouse.org.Iris House, Inc.
2348 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10030
Tel: 646 548-01000
Fax: 646 548-0200
www.irishouse.org



National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Activities

February 7, 2010 marks the tenth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). This is a national community mobilization, HIV testing, and treatment initiative, which promotes awareness of, and access to, services for African Americans. The theme for NBHAAD 2010 is “A Choice & A Lifestyle.”

Blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. While making up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than 49 percent of AIDS cases. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34, and the second leading cause of death for Black men ages 35 to 44.

Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty (being poor), sexually transmitted diseases, and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS or directed at people who do things that might put them at risk for HIV).  HIV remains a persistent threat to the health, well-being, and human potential of many African American communities. As the impact of the epidemic among African Americans has grown, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health agencies, and African American communities have stepped up efforts to address the crisis.

NBHAAD is planned, organized and coordinated by the Strategic Leadership Council*, a working group of national organizations in partnership with CDC. NBHAAD activities focus on motivating individuals to get tested and know their HIV status, and educating community members about the importance of HIV prevention, early detection, and treatment.

CDC is highly committed to reducing the impact of HIV on African American communities. CDC believes that a collaborative response by many is necessary to decrease the burden of HIV/AIDS among African Americans.  Therefore, CDC and African American leaders from business, civil rights, entertainment, government, and the media are speaking out and taking action. With these partners, CDC is intensifying HIV prevention efforts in four areas: expanding the reach of comprehensive prevention programs; increasing opportunities for HIV testing and treatment; developing new, effective prevention strategies; and mobilizing broader community action.

It is necessary for African Americans to receive the information they need to protect their health and the health of their loved ones, and to get involved in their communities.  When people affected and infected by HIV take collective action against the spread of this disease, we form a very powerful weapon. Together we can prevent HIV/AIDS, one voice, one experience, one community at a time!

What Can You Do?

  • Learn About HIV/AIDS. Educate yourself, friends, and family about HIV/AIDS and what you can do to protect yourself.
  • Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, visit hivtest.org, or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948).
  • Speak Out against stigma, homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
  • Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations that work within African American communities.
Events in Brooklyn

Friday, February 5th
National black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, United Community Baptist Church, 2701 Mermaid Ave, 11 A.M. – 4 P.M.. HIV Testing, Demonstrations, Resources and Information. For more information contact Shayoya Brown at 718-333-2067

Sunday, February 7th
Pre-Conference Evening of Praise and Awareness, LIU Brooklyn Campus, 1 University Plaza, Dekalb and Flatbush Ext, Brooklyn, 4:00 p.m. Testing, Outreach, and Prevention Initiative, For more information contact Watchful Eye TOP Initiative at 347-533-4300

Monday, February 8th
Brooklyn Commemorates National Black AIDS Awareness Day, Brooklyn College Student Center, 2901 Campus Road and East 27th Street, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.. Brooklyn Red Ribbon Campaign, Brooklyn HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan, “Brooklyn Knows” Roll Out. For more information and to register contact Dana Burnett at 718-773-3874 or dana.burnett@nychhc.org

Friday, February 12th
Heart To Heart – Love Yourself, Love Your Family Family Resource Center, 100 Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd Floor, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Free HIV Testing and Health Screenings, Food Stamp Screenings, Financial Counseling and Advice, Free Income Tax Filing, Raffle Prizes and Refreshments. For more information contact Christopher Joseph, 212-645-344 ext 136

Saturday, February 13th
During the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 10:00 A.M., Senator John Sampson and Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns will host a workshop entitled “The Saga Continues: A Dialogue on HIV/AIDS and the Impact on Communities of Color.” The workshop will be facilitated by Watchful Eye Founder Dee Bailey. All Watchful Eye Community Partners and their clients/program participants are invited and encouraged to attend this event.” For more information, contact Gwen Carter 347-533-4300 or crtr48@aol.com .

Wednesday, February 24th
“Age is No Barrier” to HIV/AIDS! Did you know that in New York State, 14 percent of AIDS cases are among individuals age 50 and over, and of all the people age 50 and over with AIDS, more than half are of African or Latino descent?

The Brooklyn Regional Committee of the AIDS Institute’s Faith Communities Project invites you to a community dialogue and fellowship to discuss and to learn “What Congregations need to know about HIV/AIDS and Older Adult.” Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson, Senior Pastor of the Church of God of East Flatbush, will host the program on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at the church, located at 409 East 95th Street, between Whilmohr Street & Lenox Road from, 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Dinner will be provided. Please share the enclosed flyer and directions to the church with your colleagues and encourage them to attend.

Pre-registration is required to prepare materials and to confirm the food order. To register, please contact Ron Derway at 800-692-8528, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday. The registration deadline is February 22nd.

The Regional Planning Committee encourages you to join with the community in dialogue and learn what we can do to support older adults impacted by HIV/AIDS and to stop the spread of HIV. Please contact Carol Tyrell, Coordinator of the Faith Communities Project, at 518-473-2300, if you have any questions about the Project

Friday, February 26th,
FREE Youth Safer Sex Party – for Youth ages 15-24 years old
2010-02-26 6:00Pm-11:00pm
The Lab Nightclub
1428 Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY
Keep the Cold out and the HEAT in!
The HEAT Program, in conjunction with the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) & FACES is sponsoring a Safer Sex Party for all youth ages 15-24 on Friday, February 26, 2010 from 6-11 pm at
The Lab Nightclub
1428 Fulton Street
Brooklyn ( bet Thompkins & Brooklyn Aves)

FREE and open to all youth
Free Food, DJ & Giveaways
Safer Sex Awarness and Resources
Free HIV rapid Testing Available

Direction: #C Train to Kingston & Throop Aves
Bus: B25 or B44 to Fulton and Thompkins Ave

Sunday, February 28th
Brother *2* Brother – Domestic Violence & HIV/AIDS in the Brotherhood, Canticles Lounge, 207 Lewis Avenue, (Corner of Lewis & Lexington), Brooklyn 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Males Only age 15 and over. Free HIV testing, refreshments provided. For more information contact Rev. Dr. Waterman (347)332-9027, Rev. Dr. Whitney (718) 622-0557, or Rev. John (718)771-8061

Events in Manhattan

Friday, February 19th
Join the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) at its’ General Quarterly Meeting featuring a panel discussion on
The Role of Media in HIV Prevention for Young Women of Color
Friday, February 19th, 10:00am-2:00pm
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
434 West 33rd Street, Penthouse
Btwn. 9th & 10th Avenues
Breakfast and Lunch will be provided
To register go to

http://ywchacmedia.eventbrite.com/

Directions to 434 West 33rd Street by Subway:
The closest trains are the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, to 34th Street

Saturday, February 20th
The Road Less Traveled,
Second Providence Baptist Church, 11-13 West 116th Street, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Continental Breakfast and Lunch. Testing will be provided.. RSVP by contacting: Rev Wilson – deandreI@optonline.net , Rev. Leudo – lleudo@att.net , or Rev. Kennedy – TLaCrie@aol.com



AIDS Community Worries About Growing Infection Rate Among Young People

Now that we are more than a month past World AIDS Day, issues around HIV and AIDS seems to have slip out of our consciousness. But for one group, particularly in urban areas like NYC and D.C., AIDS is a constant reminder of how vulnerable we all can be. The recent article, “With World AIDS Day Brings Renewed Focus on Youth”, describes the increasing fear over the growing rate of infection among the youth. In many communities of color, poor and working class teenagers and young adults have the highest infection rates in the country. As reported by the NYC Dept of Health, in 2003, 48% of all NYC public high school students reported having sex, and 17% of public high school students have had sex with 4 or more partners. According to the article, “People ages 15-24 account for about 45% of all new HIV infections, with an estimated 5.5 million young people living with HIV globally. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 46,000 people ages 13-24 were living with HIV in the U.S in 2006. Among African-American youth the infection rates are even bleaker. Young African-American adults are disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 60% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 13-to 24-year-olds in 2006.”  That is an alarmingly high percentage and should have parents, every youth organization, educational institution and church group ringing the alarms. We claim to be a society that cherishes and even worships our young but when it comes to sex education, awareness and HIV. We leave them to figure it out on their own.

How difficult is it to understand that we have no future as a community, if the majority of our youth are becoming infected with this extremely preventable disease. And despite the continued advances with HIV meds, the longer a person is infected the greater strain the disease puts on one’s body.  If it’s not the virus itself that cause’s one’s demise, then it’s the illnesses that develop as a result of a weakened immune system.  Assuming, one is taking their medication.  As noted in the article, “Some studies have reported that young people with HIV/AIDS often fail to regularly adhere to their medication regiment. Young HIV/AIDS patients also sometimes engage in risky behavior, posing serious health risks for them and for transmitting the virus to others. Young people have a lot of information on the internet and other places,” Clemons says. “It’s a part of adolescent to feel invulnerable and that nothing can happen to me.”

And unless, there is a cure, there is no miracle drug that lessens the end result. Therefore, it’s crucial to educate and protect our youth. It is vital that they understand that AIDS is a preventable disease. Abstinence is certainly a good choice for most youth to practice but for those who choose to have sex, they should be able to learn about the pleasures as well as the risks so they can make healthy choices with their partners. And condom use is an important part of that discussion. Youth must learn and appreciate how crucial condoms are in practicing safe sex. And if there is NO glove, then there’s NO love. Ok, so that was a little corny but you get the point.

Which brings me to my next point, how the message is told. Don’t create AIDS awareness campaigns for 30 and 40 year olds and think teens and young adults will relate to it. The message must be culturally and ethnically sensitive as well as age appropriate. What works for young African Americans may not work for other youth of color. Black people don’t all come from the same experience and cultural background any more than Latinos or Asians do.

Peer to peer training and education is probably the most crucial and well proven method of preventing the spread of HIV. Avert.org has a web page entitled, Introduction to HIV and AIDS education, which explains “HIV and AIDS education can take place in many different environments, from classes at school to families and friends sharing knowledge at home. It is important that this education is provided in a variety of settings to ensure that the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in society are reached, and that accurate information about HIV and AIDS is reinforced from different sources.” In New York City, there is Teatro El Puente, the first and longest running HIV/AIDS educational theater group. The company was the first educational AIDS theater company for adolescents in New York City. Teatro’s actors (ages 16-21) are all bilingual (Spanish and English). Other peer to peer AIDS education groups exist throughout the United States and around the world. UNICEF has produced a video highlighting their peer to peer AIDS education program. These programs work and are successful despite being underfunded or de-funded as many programs have in New York City.

Other methods that have been successful is the use of dance, music and video. Check out the Regret Free public service announcements (PSAs) These PSAs were created to celebrate people who live a regret free life when it comes to their sexual lifestyle choices. LIFEBeat, uses music as a tool to educate and inform. . LIFEbeat is dedicated to reaching America’s youth with the message of HIV/AIDS prevention.  LIFEbeat mobilizes the talents and resources of the music industry to raise awareness and to provide support to the AIDS community.

There are several different ways to get the education but the most important thing is to get the education. HIV and AIDS education needs to motivate people by making them aware that what they are learning is relevant to their lives. Empowerment is also crucial, as people must be in a position where they are able to take control of their sexual behavior or methods of drug use. Given the huge numbers of deaths that might still be prevented, the importance of effective education cannot be overestimated. We must make a way to save our youth, now!



Dr. King, Coretta Scott King and the continued fight for justice

Monday, Jan. 18th marked the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday (Jan. 15th) and a national day of service. Many of you have heeded President Obama’s call to service without reservation.

As we celebrate, honor and reflect on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, The Black AIDS Institute asks, What Would Martin Do? In an article written by Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, he states “Dr. King would be leading a movement against the war and for creating jobs, passing meaningful health-care legislation, educating our young and protecting our environment. And yes, just as he stood up for the sanitation workers, Dr. King would be passionate about HIV/AIDS. There is no question that ending the AIDS epidemic would be at the top of his agenda. And because it would be at the top of his agenda, it would be at the top of our agenda.”

Phill Wilson believes, as well as I, that Dr. King would have been a significant leader in the struggle to end AIDS.  And though, Dr. King was not able to contribute to this movement, his wife was a strong advocate of the AIDS community.

In a speech she gave at the Metropolitan Community Foundation’s Circles Of Hope Dinner in 2002, she says “As my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, we are all “tied in a single garment of destiny,” … “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of all reality.”

Later, she states, “To eradicate AIDS, we must give our medical researchers and scientists all of the support they need to find the cure. But we must first and foremost cure our own hearts of the fear and ignorance that leads to ostracism of people with HIV and AIDS.”

Mrs. King was a vocal opponent against injustice. She was heard speaking out against capital punishment and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.  She also supported lesbian and gay rights and as demonstrated above, an ardent supporter of HIV and AIDS education and prevention. 

We are still struggling with many of the issues that Mrs. and Dr. King attempted to address. And we must continue to defend and protect human rights, especially as it relates to the fight for decent housing, equal job opportunities, education and healthcare. We, as a community of world citizens, must also fight against homelessness, poverty, hunger and the spread of AIDS.

His legacy as well as Mrs. King will live on with our continued effort to fight against injustice and stand for the rights of all!