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April 19, 2011

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April is STD Awareness Month. Did you GYT?

By Rachel Kachur, MPH, Health Communication Specialist, Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Encouraging the Development of Statewide HIV/AIDS Plans

April is STD Awareness Month.  Every year there are over 19 million new cases of STDs in the United States (CDC). Half of these new STD infections occur among young people ages 15 to 24 even though this age group makes up only 25% of the sexually active population. There are many negative outcomes of having an STD, including an increased risk for HIV infection. 

One way to make a difference during STD Awareness Month is to promote messages provided by GYT: Get Yourself Tested Exit Disclaimer. This sexual health campaign seeks to make testing for and talking about STDs routine among sexually active 15 – 25 year olds. Launched in 2009,  the campaign is a multi-media, youth-focused campaign developed in response to the 2008 data that one in four teens has an STD (Forhan et al., 2009).

Since its launch, GYT has reached well over one million people. The GYT partnership team,  which includes CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, MTV networks, the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, and Planned Parenthood of America, has worked diligently to make it easy for both youth and those that serve youth to get involved with the campaign.

Here how you can access GYT resources:

  • Visit the campaign’s refreshed, updated website Exit Disclaimer. From there, you can download customizable posters, button, t-shirts and more, share social media elements, and upload pictures and success stories.
  • If you provide health services, visit the  website’s provider-specific page Exit Disclaimer. It contains resources and materials specifically for health care providers, such as guides on taking sexual histories and how to create a teen-friendly clinic.
  • You can also promote information specific to Chlamydia using the Chlamydia-specific microsite Exit Disclaimer. The interactive site answers frequently asked questions about Chlamydia.
  • To stay updated with current GYT events and news, become a fan of the GYT Facebook page Exit Disclaimer. The GYT Twitter Exit Disclaimer account allows for further dissemination of messages, promotes resources, and provides an easy way for other to share or “re-tweet” GYT messages.
  • A final aspect of the GYTNOW campaign is its short message service (SMS) texting code.  By texting a zip code to GYTNOW (498669), users will receive the names and phone numbers of nearby STD/HIV testing centers.

We encourage everyone to get involved with GYT – youth, CBOs, health care providers, health departments – anyone who supports empowering youth with the information and tools they need to make good health decisions.  It is easy to get involved with GYT!

For more information, go to www.gytnow.org Exit Disclaimer.

March 03, 2011

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Effective HIV Prevention Programs in the U.S.

By Miguel Gomez, AIDS.gov Director

On Monday, February 28, Dr. Jonathan Mermin gave a plenary presentation at the 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) Exit Disclaimer in Boston. Dr. Mermin is the Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.  His talk was titled The Science and Practice of HIV Prevention in the U.S Exit Disclaimer. We encourage you to view and/or listen to his presentation, which includes slides and data.

Dr. Ronald Valdiserri had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Mermin after his presentation, and we wanted to share their conversation with you. Please enjoy the following podcast and give us your feedback.

To watch other presentations from CROI, visit the conference Webcast Sessions page Exit Disclaimer.

February 07, 2011

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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Kevin Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., FFPH, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC (Cross-posted from Health Protection, Perspectives Blog)

Health Protection Perspectives

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to reflect on the lives touched by and lost to HIV/AIDS. In the United States, HIV continues to take its toll on African Americans, who have the highest rates of HIV infection of all races. Blacks make up just 14 percent of the U.S. population, yet account for almost half of those living and dying with HIV and AIDS in this country.

There are many complex social and environmental factors that fuel the epidemic in African American communities. Especially concerning is poverty and the high level of unemployment within black communities during this current economic crisis. There are other factors associated with poverty that directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with HIV, including limited access to quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education. Additionally, higher prevalence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in black communities can significantly increase the chance of contracting HIV infection. Moreover, stigma and homophobia – far too prevalent in every community – continue to prevent many African Americans from seeking HIV testingExternal Web Site Icon., prevention and treatment.

While these realities paint a bleak picture, there is another image that has been unfolding – one of hope. As I have travelled throughout the United States, I have seen hope in the eyes of those receiving prevention services funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I have met many leaders of community organizations, faith-based groups and national African American institutions who are bringing hope to black communities as they advocate for the prevention of HIV. And now their work is supported by the President of the United States. In July, 2010, President Obama launched the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which provides a first-ever blueprint for fighting the U.S. epidemic, with a particular focus on populations hardest hit, including African Americans.

I also see hope in the fact that HIV prevention is working. The number of new infections among African Americans is stable and has been for more than a decade – despite the growing number of people living with HIV who can potentially transmit the disease. Additionally, there are dramatic declines in new infections in several categories where African Americans are disproportionately represented, such as mother-to-child transmission and injection drug use.

Black communities are more mobilized than ever against HIV. Nearly 500 organizations are sponsoring or have sponsored National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events External Web Site Icon.in the United States as well as in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. African American leaders from every walk of life – business, civil rights, entertainment, government and media – are speaking out and taking action at events across the nation, from health fairs and workshops to candlelight vigils and HIV testing events.

At CDC, HIV prevention in black communities remains one of our top priorities. Last year, more than half of our HIV prevention budget was invested to fight HIV among African Americans. Recently, CDC expanded a multi-million dollar testing initiative to reach more African Americans with HIV testing. And through CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, CDC seeks to harness the collective strength and reach of longstanding black community institutions to increase HIV-related awareness, knowledge, and action across the nation.

Everyone has a part to play in this fight against HIV as infection is completely preventable. On this NBHAAD, get the facts about HIV. Get tested. Speak out against homophobia and stigma. Everyone and every action counts.

January 25, 2011

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2011 NHPC: Connecting HIV Prevention Professionals through Social Media

By Bob Kohmescher, 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference Coordinator, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

2011 HIV Prevention Conference

The 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) Exit Disclaimer will be held in Atlanta, August 14-17. The conference will contribute to achieving the three major goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and these goals are reflected in the conference theme “The Urgency of Now: Reduce incidence. Improve access. Promote equity.” We want you to share your significant work in HIV prevention. We encourage you to submit an abstract Exit Disclaimer to the conference (deadline, February 4, 2011).

As we plan for the conference, we are looking at the next generation of HIV prevention leaders for inspiration on new methods of reaching at-risk populations and youth where they receive messages. Exploring the possibilities of social media allows prevention partners to learn from these innovative young public health professionals and help learn how to bridge a gap in prevention education and communication. This is particularly important as we look for the best ways to achieve the goals of the National Strategy.

Social media prevention campaigns are fast becoming a powerful channel to reach young consumers of health information, namely in the way of peer-to-peer online education. For example, through the Talk HIV Exit Disclaimer phase of the Act Against AIDS Exit Disclaimer campaign, CDC is leveraging social media to encourage open and honest conversations about HIV/AIDS and drive discussion both online and offline. 

During this past year, we have seen how social media has also played an integral role in helping new and experienced HIV prevention professionals engage in pivotal discussions on HIV prevention, share the latest resources, and network with colleagues at conferences. During the 2011 NHPC Exit Disclaimer, we hope to engage attendees to join in the discussions throughout the conference and share their experiences with their colleagues and the next generation of HIV prevention leaders. We encourage all professionals to take their years of experience in working with HIV, whether just a few years or 30, and share it with their colleagues and a new set of public health professionals working to find new ways to educate people about the disease.

This year’s NHPC Exit Disclaimer will highlight the work of these young innovators in HIV research, prevention, and/or policy Exit Disclaimer to encourage their continued contribution to the field of HIV prevention. To be considered for this recognition, new researchers should be under 30 years old and are required to submit a completed Sponsored Participant Application Exit Disclaimer by the abstract submission deadline of February 4, 2011.

You can follow the conference on Twitter at www.twitter.com/2011NHPC Exit Disclaimer for important conference reminders and news. Search Twitter using hashtag #2011NHPC to follow the conversations about the conference and include the hashtag in all of your conference-related tweets.

AIDS.gov note: Speaking of conferences, the International AIDS Society recently released its report on the 2010 International AIDS Conference Exit Disclaimer in Vienna. Check out page 22 to read about how they used (and evaluated) social media at the conference.

December 08, 2010

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Federal HIV/AIDS Funding Formulas Examined

By Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

collage of photos from the meeting

Last week, we convened the first in a series of ongoing discussions about the policies, formulas, and other factors that determine how Federal HIV/AIDS resources are allocated across the United States to departments of health, community-based organizations, and other grantees providing HIV/AIDS services. Participating in the discussion were personnel from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the White House’s Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). More than 20 HIV community stakeholders representing States, cities, service providers, policy advocates, academia and other perspectives joined in the discussion and offered valuable input. (View a full list of participants [115 KB].)

In pursuit of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s goal of reducing new HIV infections, we must intensify HIV prevention efforts in communities where HIV is most heavily concentrated. This requires that governments at all levels – Federal, State, local and tribal – ensure that HIV/AIDS funding is allocated consistent with the latest epidemiological data and is targeted to the highest prevalence populations and communities. Toward this end, the NHAS Federal Implementation Plan tasked HHS with the responsibility of initiating consultations with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HUD, and other departments or agencies as appropriate to develop policy recommendations for revising funding formulas and policy guidance in order to ensure that Federal HIV allocations go to the jurisdictions with the greatest need.

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