Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I Give to Fight HIV/AIDS

By Seth Rosen

As do so many people, I make the bulk of my charitable giving during November and December of each year. Like for so many, the holidays remind me about both what I have and the lack that so many endure all year round. But lack is a funny thing. Sometimes it is easy to see, but so often lack hides behind a neighbor's smile, or the closed eyes of the person next to you on the bus, or the wave from a colleague at work. Sometimes we even fool ourselves into thinking that lack doesn't exist if we can't see it. For example, there are people who mistakenly believe that the fight against HIV and AIDS in the United States is over, and that AIDS is a manageable disease where lack no longer exists.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are a few sobering statistics about HIV in the United States:
  • 1 in 5 people is infected with HIV and does not know his or her status.
  • Over 1.17 million people aged 13 and over are living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Approximately 50,000 people are infected with HIV each year.
  • By 2015 a full 50 percent of those living with HIV and AIDS will be over 50 years old.

I live on the bleeding edge of a generation that never knew a world without AIDS. Born in 1974, I never had a health education class that didn't talk about safer sex, HIV transmission, and the fact that sex could kill. Coming of age in the Reagan/Bush America, while living in New York City, I have no memory of life before HIV. I don't remember the first reported cases, or a creeping fear, or a growing outrage. I have only known AIDS as a global pandemic -- omnipresent, destroying lives, quite literally, with a silent touch.

But AIDS has also shown me strength beyond comprehension, determination for change that continues unmatched, and a ferocious empathy and love that leaves me in awe. As the new Managing Director of Development at Gay Men's Health Crisis, I am privileged to lead a team that raises funds to feed, educate, heal, protect, nurture, and counsel the over 11,000 people affected by HIV/AIDS who walk through our doors every year. GMHC is not only the world's first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS care, prevention, and advocacy, but it is a refuge for many with no other place to turn as the continuing stigma of HIV leaves them afraid to tell a single person that they are HIV-positive.

With the help of thousands of supporters, GMHC fills the lack caused by HIV. We are the hot meal to the hungry and the job training to the person ready to climb. We are the educator to the person committed to staying safe, and the kind word and helping hand to the newly diagnosed. We are where your neighbor, friend, son, daughter, mother, and father turn when they can't tell you about their lack.

My husband and I have been planning our end-of-year giving, and I will be writing a check to Gay Men's Health Crisis. Every day I am moved by what GMHC does for its clients, and the bravery and courage of these clients is a constant inspiration. I work here, and support GMHC, because the services we provide are transformative, and filling, in every sense of the word. I hope you will consider giving to a charity that addresses the lack that can be hard to see but, trust me, is there all the same.
Seth Rosen is the Managing Director of Development at Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).  His article was initially published on November 23 in The Huffington Post.

Who's Minding the Kids?!

By Janet Weinberg

Recently I mentioned to a few people that we no longer have babies being born with HIV in New York. Yes, this is true. Routine screening for newborns born with HIV began in New York in 1997, and in 2010 there were a total of three babies born with HIV. It is estimated that New York's great advances in this area have saved at least 749 infants from HIV, representing a savings of about $215 million dollars. This is a terrific advance in HIV prevention.

Parents work to protect their children. They hover over them as they take their first steps, provide safe and caring homes, and anxiously await their return home from that infamous first day of school. They then anxiously send their children off to their first dance and then again on their first dates.

There is a major incongruence though.

In 2009 there was an estimated 21-percent increase in HIV incidence for people aged 13 to 29 years. Young men who have sex with men were the only group to experience a significant increase in incidence in this age range. Most affected are young men of color. And yes, I know many jump to the conclusion that this increase is due to promiscuity, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly states, "The reasons for this increase among young, black MSM are not clear." They go onto say that there are several issues that seem to be driving this train, and they include:
  • Lack of awareness of their infection
  • Stigma of HIV and homosexuality, thus limiting access to services
  • Limited access to healthcare, HIV testing, and treatment
  • Increased likelihood of having older sexual partners (who are more likely to be HIV-infected), compared to MSM of other racial/ethnic groups
  • Higher rates of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among young black men, which can facilitate HIV transmission
  • Underestimating personal risk for HIV

As we worry about how to protect our children, we seem to lose track of the fact that they grow up to be sexually engaged youth. For eight years, we did not offer any options except abstinence-only sex education in the public schools. When the Obama administration went into office, two federal funding streams for abstinence-only education programs were eliminated.

We are finally beginning to make some progress toward the prevention of STDs and HIV. In August, for the first time in nearly 20 years, New York City public middle and high schools will be mandated to incorporate sex education as part of the public school curriculum.

Just recently, the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Immunization Practices stated that boys should be routinely vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) at age 11 or 12. This would reduce the risk of genital warts and certain cancers, including anal cancer. Gardasil had previously only been approved to help prevent genital warts and certain cancers for girls and women.
On Oct. 31, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that pediatricians offer routine HIV testing for all adolescents, beginning at ages 16 to 18.

As parents, teachers, medical and community service providers, the time is now to increase protection for our children and youth from all of life's trials and tribulations. We must "mind" our kids, teens and even young adults -- their lives and our future depend on it.
Janet Weinberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Gay Men's Health Crisis.  Her article was initially published on November 23 in The Huffington Post.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hugh & Crye's Ties to Fighting AIDS

by Kylie Springman

The members of GMHC’s community know what they’re talking about when it comes to fashion. When a few style-minded staff members suggested we partner with Hugh & Crye, an online men’s apparel company based in Washington, DC, we had a hunch that this collaboration was going to be a great fit.

Hugh & Crye specializes in men’s dress shirts. Their mission is to create readymade shirts that fit better than any others by introducing a new sizing system designed for specific body types. In short, Hugh & Crye makes shirts (and ties) that fit. But Hugh & Crye doesn’t just care about eradicating ill-fitting shirts. The company is committed to having a positive social impact, too. That’s where GMHC comes in.
We called up Pranav Vora, the company’s founder and CEO, and he was keen on working with GMHC. He hand-selected three fun, versatile ties that represent GMHC’s colors and aesthetic. From now until December 31st, when you use the coupon code GMHC10, you get 10% off your purchase of a Northwest, Moonshine, or Pull Up tie. Plus, 10% of the proceeds from your purchase will be donated to GMHC. This holiday season, you can give a gift that supports the fight against HIV/AIDS in style.
Just don’t forget your coupon code, GMHC10!