Thursday, December 30, 2010

Safety Net Message for December

Have a healthy 2011: schedule your HIV test today at the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective. Email info@hglhc.org. Happy New Year!

--from your friends on the Safety Net Team

Please share this with everyone-- ESPECIALLY all the men who love men who are in your life-- friends, family, lovers, hookups, & strangers! post it on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace (uhh if you still use it).... send it to cuties on ManHunt and Grindr....  wish everyone a safe and happy new year!

And once you share it, do yourself a favor and take this quick survey to let me know that you shared this important health reminder. You will be entered into a drawing to WIN a $10 GIFT CARD to TISANE. Winner will be notified by 1/20/2011. The survey is here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZW8V337


Stay safe, play safe, lovies. And enjoy ringing in the new year. Oh, and make SURE you have a designated driver-- I don't wanna be bailing any of you out, but more importantly, I want you to take care of yourself and others coz you're beautiful and worth it.

-Jamie
Safety Net Team Captain

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010
Recommendations and Reports December 17, 2010 / Vol. 59 / No. RR-12

Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)
Subgroups of MSM are at high risk for HIV infection and other viral and bacterial STDs. The frequency of unsafe sexual practices and the reported rates of bacterial STDs and incident HIV infection declined substantially in MSM from the 1980s through the mid-1990s. However, since that time, increased rates of early syphilis (primary, secondary, or early latent), gonorrhea, and chlamydial infection and higher rates of unsafe sexual behaviors have been documented among MSM in the United States and virtually all industrialized countries (103,104). The effect of these behavioral changes on HIV transmission has not been ascertained, but preliminary data suggest that the incidence of HIV infection is increasing among MSM in some urban centers, particularly among MSM from racial and ethnic minority groups (105) and among those who use nonprescription drugs during sex, particularly methamphetamine and volatile nitrites (also known as “poppers”). These adverse trends likely reflect the 1) changing attitudes concerning HIV infection that have accompanied advances in HIV therapy, resulting in improved quality of life and survival for HIV-infected persons; 2) changing patterns of substance abuse; 3) demographic shifts in MSM populations; and 4) changes in sex partner networks resulting from new venues for partner acquisition (e.g., the internet). Increases in bacterial STDs are not necessarily accompanied by increases in HIV incidence; for example, oral sex may permit efficient spread of bacterial STDs but not HIV, as does serosorting (preferential selection of sex partners of the same serostatus) among HIV-infected MSM (106,107).

Clinicians should assess the STD-related risks for all male patients, including a routine inquiry about the sex of sex partners.

MSM, including those with HIV infection, should routinely undergo nonjudgmental STD/HIV risk assessment and client-centered prevention counseling to reduce the likelihood of acquiring or transmitting HIV or other STDs. Clinicians should be familiar with the local community resources available to assist MSM at high risk in facilitating behavioral change and to enable the conduct of partner notification activities. Clinicians also should routinely ask sexually active MSM about symptoms consistent with common STDs, including urethral discharge, dysuria, genital and perianal ulcers, regional lymphadenopathy, skin rash, and anorectal symptoms consistent with proctitis, including discharge and pain on defecation or during anal intercourse. Clinicians should perform appropriate diagnostic testing on all symptomatic patients.

Routine laboratory screening for common STDs is indicated for all sexually active MSM. The following screening tests should be performed at least annually for sexually active MSM:

• HIV serology, if HIV negative or not tested within the previous year;
• syphilis serology, with a confirmatory testing to establish whether persons with reactive serologies have incident untreated syphilis, have partially treated syphilis, or are manifesting a slow serologic response to appropriate prior therapy;
• a test for urethral infection with N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis in men who have had insertive intercourse† during the preceding year; testing of the urine using nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) is the preferred approach;
• a test for rectal infection§ with N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis in men who have had receptive anal intercourse* during the preceding year (NAAT of a rectal swab is the preferred approach); and
• a test for pharyngeal infection§ with N. gonorrhoeae in men who have had receptive oral intercourse† during the preceding year (NAAT is the preferred approach). Testing for C. trachomatis pharyngeal infection is not recommended.

Evaluation for HSV-2 infection with type-specific serologic tests also can be considered if infection status is unknown; knowledge of HSV-2 serostatus might be helpful in identifying persons with previously undiagnosed genital tract infection.

Because of the increased incidence of anal cancer in HIV-infected MSM, screening for anal cytologic abnormalities can be considered; however, evidence is limited concerning the natural history of anal intraepithelial neoplasias, the reliability of screening methods, the safety and response to treatments, and the programmatic support needed for such a screening activity.

More frequent STD screening (i.e., at 3–6-month intervals) is indicated for MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners. In addition, MSM who have sex in conjunction with illicit drug use (particularly methamphetamine use) or whose sex partners participate in these activities should be screened more frequently. All MSM should be tested for HBsAg to detect HBV infection.

Prompt identification of chronic infection with HBV is essential to ensure necessary care and services to prevent transmission to others (108). HBsAg testing should be made available in STD treatment settings. In addition, screening among past or current drug users should include HCV and HBV testing.

Vaccination against hepatitis A and B is recommended for all MSM in whom previous infection or vaccination cannot be documented (2,3). Preimmunization serologic testing might be considered to reduce the cost of vaccinating MSM who are already immune to these infections, but this testing should not delay vaccination. Vaccinating persons who are immune to HAV or HBV infection because of previous infection or vaccination does not increase the risk for vaccine-related adverse events (see Hepatitis B, Prevaccination Antibody Screening). Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus infection can occur, especially among HIV-infected MSM. Serologic screening for hepatitis C infection is recommended at initial evaluation of newly diagnosed HIV-infected persons. HIV-infected MSM can also acquire HCV after initial screening; therefore, men with new and unexplained increases in alanine aminotransferase (ALT) should be tested for acute HCV infection. To detect acute HCV infection among HIV-infected MSM with high-risk sexual behaviors or concomitant ulcerative STDs, routine HCV testing of HIV-infected MSM should be considered.

† Regardless of history of condom use during exposure.
§ Commercially available NAATS are not FDA cleared for these indications, but they can be used by laboratories that have met all regulatory requirements for an off-label procedure.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December's Safety Net Message

December's Safety Net Message:

Giving gifts? Presentation counts-- "wrap it up" in style! Make the season bright with red and green condoms to keep you safe this holiday season.

The CARE Program and HIV Testing

 

Donna Shubrooks, RN
STD Program Coordinator at HGLHC

         
STD QUESTIONS?

Ask Donna…





Why does the CT Health Department need to be notified if I test positive for HIV or an STD?  Isn’t that just my own business?

--Seeking Privacy in the Big Picture


Dear Seeker,

Of course that is your private business, and that info is always treated with complete confidentiality.  Each state health department is dedicated to serving the public, and that means YOU!  Think of it this way…if the water in the reservoir was dangerously contaminated in YOUR town, YOU would EXPECT the Health Department to notify everyone to keep people safe.  If YOU worked in a factory with dangerous toxic fumes or rode on an airplane beside someone with active TB, YOU would EXPECT the Health Department to warn YOU that safety precautions were needed, or testing and treatment was required for YOUR benefit.  RIGHT?  That level of care is expected and deserved by all residents in every state.

So… when a new case of a contagious disease or infection is detected (such as TB, Measles, Encephalitis, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia or HIV), people who may have been exposed deserve to be notified that they should be tested and treated.  There is no judgment about “HOW” that infection may have been transmitted.  This is where the CARE Program comes in.  CARE Program counselors are specially trained to help people infected with HIV as well as their partners.  The counselor will help tell your sex or needle-sharing partners that they may have been exposed to HIV. ALL INFORMATION DISCUSSED WILL REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL.  The counselor will notify your partners at risk without revealing ANYTHING about YOU!  They cannot say your name, age race, even your gender or when they may have been exposed.  This program is there to help YOU, in a few different ways:  1.  A CARE counselor can tell your partners FOR you.
2.  A CARE counselor can be WITH you when YOU tell your partners.
3.  If you want to tell your partners by yourself, the CARE counselor can 
     help you practice how to tell them. They can be sure you understand
     the FACTS about HIV so you can answer any questions your partner
     may have.

Why do your partners need to know?  Remember, they DON’T need to know anything about YOU!  But,
·       they should know that they might have HIV and could choose to be tested. 
·       they can get early medical care if they have HIV.
·       they can learn how to protect themselves and others from HIV
·       they can get free testing and treatment for other STDs.

Don’t forget, we’re ALL in this together.  We care about our community and want people to be safe.  ANY consensual sex practices have consequences.  We indeed ARE each responsible for our own sexual health, but wouldn’t YOU want to be told if you had been at risk and could be easily tested and treated? 

THINK ABOUT IT!   Have fun, but play safely.  Know the rules and protect YOURSELF.  That protects others too.

For more info about the CARE Program or how to get tested, call 860-509-7920 or the National AIDS Hotline 1-800-342-2437.

The Health Collective is here for you too.
Call us at 860-278-4163.

BE WELL.  BE YOURSELF.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day Safety Net Message

The Safety Net message for December 1, 2010 is:

"Today is World AIDS Day. Do you know your HIV status? Get tested & tell your friends to do the same. http://hglhc-safety-net.blogspot.com/ for info"

Once you've sent the message to your friends via text message, email, Facebook, Twitter, or other communications, please answer these few questions and you will be entered into a drawing to win a $25 gift card to CVS!

Survey is here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2YR7TFD


Thanks for all that you do.

-Jamie
Safety Net Team Captain

LOLS!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiIHQBlPKvE

Presidential Proclamation on World AIDS Day

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
November 30, 2010

Presidential Proclamation--World AIDS Day

WORLD AIDS DAY, 2010
- - - - - - -


BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION


On this World AIDS Day, as we approach the thirtieth year of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we reflect on the many Americans and others around the globe lost to this devastating disease, and pledge our support to the 33 million people worldwide who live with HIV/AIDS. We also recommit to building on the great strides made in fighting HIV, to preventing the spread of the disease, to continuing our efforts to combat stigma and discrimination, and to finding a cure.

Today, we are experiencing a domestic HIV epidemic that demands our attention and leadership. My Administration has invigorated our response to HIV by releasing the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. Its vision is an America in which new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, all persons regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance will have unfettered access to high quality, life extending care.

Signifying a renewed level of commitment and urgency, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States focuses on comprehensive, evidence based approaches to preventing HIV in high risk communities. It strengthens efforts to link and retain people living with HIV into care, and lays out new steps to ensure that the United States has the workforce necessary to serve Americans living with HIV. The Strategy also provides a path for reducing HIV related health disparities by adopting community level approaches to preventing and treating this disease, including addressing HIV related discrimination.

Along with this landmark Strategy, we have also made significant progress with the health reform law I signed this year, the Affordable Care Act. For far too long, Americans living with HIV and AIDS have endured great difficulties in obtaining adequate health insurance coverage and quality care. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from using HIV status and other pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny health care coverage to children as of this year, and to all Americans beginning in 2014. To ensure that individuals living with HIV/AIDS can access the care they need, the Affordable Care Act ends lifetime limits and phases out annual limits on coverage. Starting in 2014, it forbids insurance companies from charging higher premiums because of HIV status, and introduces tax credits that will make coverage more affordable for all Americans. This landmark law also provides access to insurance coverage through the Pre Existing Condition Insurance Plan for the uninsured with chronic conditions.

Our Government has a role to play in reducing stigma, which is why my Administration eliminated the entry ban that previously barred individuals living with HIV/AIDS from entering the United States. As a result, the 2012 International AIDS Conference will be held in Washington, D.C., the first time this important meeting will be hosted by the United States in over two decades. For more information about our commitment to fighting this epidemic and the stigma surrounding it, I encourage all Americans to visit: www.AIDS.govhttp://aacyf.convio.net/site/R?i=JdfMtgDFWCFCKohEXd42nQ...

Tackling this disease requires a shared response that builds on the successes achieved to date. Globally, tens of millions of people have benefited from HIV prevention, treatment, and care programs supported by the American people. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria support anti retroviral treatments for millions around the world. My Administration has also made significant investments and increases in our efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS at home and abroad by implementing a comprehensive package of proven prevention programs and improving the health of those in developing countries. Additionally, the Global Health Initiative integrates treatment and care with other interventions to provide a holistic approach to improving the health of people living with HIV/AIDS. Along with our global partners, we will continue to focus on saving lives through effective prevention activities, as well as other smart investments to maximize the impact of each dollar spent.

World AIDS Day serves as an important reminder that HIV/AIDS has not gone away. More than one million Americans currently live with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and more than 56,000 become infected each year. For too long, this epidemic has loomed over our Nation and our world, taking a devastating toll on some of the most vulnerable among us. On World AIDS Day, we mourn those we have lost and look to the promise of a brighter future and a world without HIV/AIDS.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim December 1, 2010, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join in appropriate activities to remember the men, women, and children who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty fifth.


BARACK OBAMA

Great article: "I Am HIV Positive and I Don’t Blame Anybody—Including Myself"

by Kirk Grisham ShareThis


Friday, November 12 2010,

I am HIV positive, and I don’t blame anybody for it—not myself or anybody else.

He didn’t rape me and he did not trick me. It was through our unprotected sex that I became HIV positive. Since seroconverting, I have been very conscious of the language I use to discuss transmission, particularly my own. To say “he gave me HIV” obscures the truth, it was through a mutual act, consensual sex, that I became HIV positive. When speaking to him a couple months after my diagnosis I gathered that he knew he was positive when we had sex. But that is beside the point; my sexual health is mine to control, not his.

We are encouraged to think about prevention and transmission in terms of responsibility. Someone must be at fault. Culturally, we hunt for secret villains. Today’s “down low” black man is but the latest boogeyman at which we’ve pointed our fingers—the latest of the so-often racialized monsters at which we can direct HIV blame rather than have honest conversations about sex and relationships.

In recent weeks, another recurring villain has re-emerged: the HIV-positive criminal who callously infects others. Last month, long-standing accusations that baseball legend Roberto Alomar hid an alleged HIV infection from his wife and girlfriends returned to the news. This summer, German pop star Nadja Benaissa made international headlines as she was tried for failing to disclose her HIV status to sex partners. These stories rarely fail to steal the news spotlight, and often throw local communities into HIV panics.

There must be a reason they are so resonant, right? They are evidence that HIV transmission from knowingly positive persons is rampant, right? Wrong. The reality is that the vast majority of HIV infections occur between two consenting people who believe they are doing nothing more risky than making love—or, at least getting laid.

People who know their HIV status are actually more likely to use condoms than not. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one snapshot study that found 95 percent of those living with HIV infection in 2006 did not transmit the virus to others that year. Another CDC study, released in September, found that while one in five “men who have sex with men”—public health jargon for gay and bisexual men—in 21 major cities has HIV, nearly half of those men (44 percent) don’t know it. The agency estimates that the majority of new infections each year result from sexual contact in which the positive person does not know he or she has HIV.

HIV disproportionately affects African Americans, regardless of sexuality. They account for half of the people living with HIV/AIDS, but just 13 percent of the overall U.S. population. Studies also suggest African Americans are least likely to know their HIV status, with the younger being less aware. Similar patterns exist among men who have sex with men, of all races. No talking and no testing, just finger pointing.

The communication problems that help drive these trends don’t stop with finding monsters to blame. People I love and talk to about my status do not always have the language or tools to express their grief and worry. They ask things like, “How could you be so irresponsible?” Or, “How could you fuck up like this?”

This language hurts, but more importantly it shifts the discussion from meaningful conversation about risk and vulnerability to simplistic directives: if only people used condoms, transmission would cease. But this idea relies on a complicated array of misconceptions and idealistic assumptions of equality, equal access to information, and how to use that information to stay HIV negative.

It is irresponsible to just tell people to use condoms without acknowledging that conditions like poverty, patriarchy and homophobia play roles in the so-called risks we all take. Even with people who have seemingly escaped these broader contexts—say, a working-middle class white man such as myself—stigma can prevail. Stigma that is produced by homophobia and general ignorance, yes, but also by American society’s desperate need to discipline and punish, to affix blame on individuals rather than confront the systems in which individuals live. So the AIDS epidemic becomes a challenge of personal responsibility rather than a damning indictment of global public health. That personal responsibility, however, is tricky: I bore no responsibility for the epidemic, until I had HIV, when it became entirely my problem.

When I used to get tested at the city clinic, they would tell me that people stay negative by disclosing their negative status. Having a conversation is paramount—negotiating whether and how you want to use protection, talking about the last time you were tested and asking the same of your partner. This dialogue cannot be taken for granted, but for many, before these conversations can happen, we need the tools to do so. So here, we lead by example. Three people of varying HIV status offer their own testimonies on how they think about their sexual health, and what it means.


Benee Williams
Age: 28; HIV negative

I can’t always say that I have cared much for my sexual health. I listened to the teachers speak about individual health but none of it seemed to do its purpose. I’m not so sure if I understood the power of owning my sexuality or knowing how to protect my physical and mental health. As I got older, I really started to look outside of what I deemed “me in between the sheets.” I started to think about my sexual health as more than just physical. I declared I own this body; I must respect it. When I do or do not have sex it is my decision, and I must be active in that decision, not passive. I appreciate sex. Through this process I have learned that communication about health awareness with my partners has improved over the years as well. Sex is one of the most natural things we can do as humans.


Catherine Mercedes Brillantes Judge
Age: 24; HIV negative

As a survivor of domestic violence and the many forms of abuse that it carries, I know being in control of your sexual health is critical for feeling empowered and safe. It took me years until I finally felt that I was in control of my sexual health and decisions. When I made the choice to be celibate (for a specific time period), it was the first time I felt in control of my body. It was liberating for me since I was often forced into sex throughout my adolescence. After not having the ability to say “no” for such a long time, I know the importance of making that decision. There are structural reasons why women feel that they are not able to say no, and we need to work to change that. As a young feminist of color, I believe it takes much more than reproductive health care and education for us to feel in control of our sexuality—it takes personal empowerment too. That to love and respect yourself means not only resisting coercion, but being comfortable enough to say yes when you want to have sex too.


Brandon
Age: 31; HIV Positive

My relationship to HIV has been woefully simple and dramatically complex (with emphasis on the drama). When I tested positive, I knew it was not a death sentence. It was post 1996. I’d worked in prevention. I knew I was going to live. The problem became living and remaining a sexual being. As a youth organizer, I had been taught to integrate positive sexuality into youth work. I was taught, and believe, that sex is a natural part of our human experience and that we should teach and support each other in our explorations of sex and the ways in can enhance or relationships, friendships, and lives.With HIV I almost lost that…others tried to take it away from me. Now I talk about it raw and uncut. I talk about the challenges but also reclaim space in the sexual community and use my own experiences, the good, the bad, and the multi-orgasmic to demand permanent space for all those living with HIV. To all the poz people in the world, I say, with love: fuck on.

World AIDS Day: Moving Toward an HIV-Free Generation

Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD, Senior Policy and Medical Advisor at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research coauthored an article with Kate Goertzen and Yuri Hanada on "World AIDS Day: Moving Towards an HIV Free Generation" published on today's Huffington Post. Full text below:


World AIDS Day: Moving Toward an HIV-Free Generation

Susan Blumenthal, M.D.
Public Health Editor at HuffPost and Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General
Co-authored by Kate Goertzen and Yuri Hanada


On this World AIDS Day, achieving an HIV-free generation must be a top priority. In many areas of the world, including the United States, youth bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In 2009, 370,000 children who became HIV-positive globally were infected by mother to child transmission (MTCT). That's 1,000 children every day. Provision of anti-retroviral medications (ARVs) to pregnant women living with HIV could prevent most of these infections, but only 53 percent of pregnant women who are HIV positive receive these drugs in low and middle income countries. In contrast, thanks to public health education and access to lifesaving ARV medications, MTCT has been virtually eliminated in the United States, and most babies are now born HIV-free. This makes the current HIV infection rate for this generation of young people in America all the more alarming: As many as 250,000 youth are living with HIV in America today. Furthermore, in 2006, more HIV infections occurred among people ages 13-29 in the United States than any other age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite considerable progress in the scientific understanding of HIV as well as the eradication of MTCT in America, the incidence and prevalence of, and misconceptions about, HIV among our youngest generation suggest that we have much work to do to effectively alter the course of the epidemic among youth.

America's youth are coming of age at a time when AIDS is considered to be a treatable disease. Unlike young people in the early days of the epidemic in the U.S., most young people today have not witnessed the deaths of peers from this illness. Complacency surrounding HIV/AIDS in America has led to a kind of AIDS amnesia, particularly among youth. The results: large numbers of young people who are unaware of their risk for infection, who have never been tested, and who take unnecessary risks with their health.

In the U.S., statistics concerning HIV/AIDS among young people are particularly startling for the most vulnerable groups. Young men who have sex with men (MSM), ages 13-24, accounted for 84 percent of HIV/AIDS cases from 2004-2007. Yet, a 2005 survey of young MSM in seven major cities revealed that only 23 percent of those who had tested positive were already aware they were infected. In 2007, African Americans, another vulnerable group, represented 17 percent of adolescents ages 13-19 in the U.S., but accounted for 72 percent of HIV/AIDS cases in this age group. Young women, intravenous drug users, and youth whose parents are living with HIV/AIDS are also at increased risk.

Scientists have found that the dynamic developmental phase of adolescence itself contributes to vulnerability as a result of significant physiological changes, including those of the reproductive anatomy, which increase susceptibility to HIV infection. Additionally, youth mount robust immunological responses that may surpass those of adults, and it is unclear exactly when the switch from the biological mechanisms of child to adult drug metabolism occurs. These factors can potentially affect the safety and dosing requirements in vaccine and other biomedical prevention technology trials and yet prevention and treatment recommendations for young people are often extrapolated from the results of adult-only studies. For example, the recent finding that anti-retroviral (ARV) medication taken as a prophylactic "prevention pill" (PrEP) can reduce transmission by 43.8 percent and when taken as prescribed by as much as 90 percent is game changing; the median age in this study of MSM was 25, underscoring why youth must be included in future clinical trials.

There are additional considerations that place young people at high risk. While adolescence marks a period of exploration that may translate to episodic and risky sex, young people may not have the interpersonal skills necessary to negotiate safe behaviors that can protect them from HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unintended pregnancies. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth may face stigmatizing and isolating environments that affect their psychological and sexual health, as those who are unable or unwilling to disclose their sexual orientation may withdraw from critical sources of social support and prevention services.

Furthermore, structural factors such as homelessness, transportation, and state laws regarding the confidentiality of minors' health information impede young people's access to youth-friendly services and health information. Approximately one-third of all junior and senior high schools have no on-site health services. Meanwhile, half of sexually active youth will have contracted an STI by age 25, increasing their risk for HIV, but approximately two-thirds of 15-17-year-olds and half of 18-24-year-olds have never been tested for an STI. This is why comprehensive, evidence-based, and age-appropriate sex education is needed in schools today.

The HIV/AIDS burden on youth underscores the urgent call for an enhanced focus on their unique needs. The Obama Administration's first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), announced in July, identifies the importance of addressing the growing HIV epidemic among young people. NHAS presents a prime opportunity to prioritize and target vulnerable youth with appropriate prevention and service-delivery programs while expanding efforts to reach all young people with vital HIV/AIDS information.

Every hour, two young people in the U.S. become infected with HIV; of those who do become infected, approximately 80 percent do not know that they are HIV-positive. Altering this trajectory will require a comprehensive, multifaceted approach -- one that invests in research and mobilizes all sectors of society to design and implement prevention and treatment programs that specifically address youth issues. This is the roadmap to attain an HIV-free generation in the United States. For our nation's future, we must act now.



Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.A. (ret.) is the Senior Policy and Medical Advisor at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. She is also a Clinical Professor at Georgetown and Tufts University Schools of Medicine and Chair of the Global Health Program at the Meridian International Center. Dr. Blumenthal served for more than 20 years in senior health leadership positions in the Federal government in the Administrations of four U.S. Presidents, including as Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of Women's Health, as a White House Advisor on Health, and as Chief of the Behavioral Medicine and Basic Prevention Research Branch at the National Institutes of Health. She is the Public Health Editor of the Huffington Post. Admiral Blumenthal has received numerous awards including honorary doctorates and has been decorated with the highest medals of the US Public Health Service for her pioneering leadership and significant contributions to advancing health in the United States and worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2009 Health Leader of the Year Award from the Commissioned Officers Association and was recently named a 2010 Rock Star of Science.

Kate Goertzen serves as a Research and Policy Assistant at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.
Yuri Hanada is an Alan Rosenfield Health Policy Fellow at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.

Today is World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children.

Take this quiz to find out if you've been at risk for HIV and to read a great resource from a UK-based HIV prevention website:

http://www.worldaidsday.org/Facts-and-Stats/Have-you-put-yourself-at-risk.aspx