Monday, May 21, 2012

GMHC salutes the NAACP for their strong endorsement of marriage equality

by Marjorie Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer

GMHC salutes the NAACP for their strong endorsement of marriage equality.  The NAACP, one of the leading voices for social justice and equality for all Americans, will help bring the message of equal treatment to even more people--helping transform our country into one that is more just.  NAACP President Ben Jealous and their Board of Directors are to be commended, as well as leading NAACP members Julian Bond and Congressman John Lewis.

In the words of Coretta Scott King, "Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience.  I don't believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others."

GMHC is proud to stand with the NAACP in our united commitment for marriage equality.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

AIDS Walk Steps Still Lead the Way

by Craig Miller

courtesy of AIDS Walk New York
Medication and condoms alone will never end AIDS. These tools, as important as they are, must be married with vital social change. To truly end AIDS, we must overcome poverty, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

It is GMHC’s and my strong belief that these social ills fuel the epidemic. They must be confronted by the powerful community that participatesin, and contributes to, AIDS Walk New York each year.

If we are to achieve a generation free of AIDS, then we need a government that is truly laying the groundwork to eliminate discrimination against alldisenfranchised people. To end AIDS, we must fight institutionalized discrimination.

For example, we need a government that stops pounding LGBT youth with messages that diminish their worth and jeopardize their futures. We must also push back against religious doctrine that shames rather than uplifts. As they demonstrate each year, AIDS Walk New York participants are deeply committed to, and are powerfully advancing, this vision of equality.

The Obama administration does seem to be working to lay the foundation for such a future, with the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy and with the president’s historic statement declaring his support for marriage equality.

At the legislative level, important work is being done. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has sponsored a widely supported bill to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, D-Calif., is advancing the Social Security Equality Act of 2012 to end the discrimination against LGBT Americans that is embedded in our Social Security system. These are just two of the many legislative paths that will help fight AIDS while serving the larger cause of full LGBT equality under the law.

To end AIDS, we must also lift up LGBT youth and combat homophobia. Our young people far too often endure bullying from their peers, as well as messages of disapproval from their communities, from close-minded ideologues, and sometimes, tragically, from their own families. This can result in severe and even fatal depression; it can also lead them to make choices that put them at risk for HIV. AIDS Walk New York supports programs at GMHC like Club 1319 that provide guidance to questioning, bisexual, and gay teens, helping them make positive, informed decisions about their health.

To end AIDS we, must fight racism and sexism. People of color continue to disproportionately face disparities in the quality and availability of affordable healthcare. That means less HIV information, less testing, less treatment, and a greater opportunity for the virus to spread.

Women, particularly those facing economic duress, too often lack the power to negotiate safer sex with their male partners. The numbers illustrate this ongoing tragedy. In New York City, women now make up a much larger proportion – 32% – of all HIV diagnoses than they did at the start of the epidemic.

We must ensure that all HIV-positive people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, have access to appropriate medical care, and are presented with honest, accurate, and culturally sensitive HIV prevention information. AIDS Walk New York funds programs at GMHC do exactly that.

To end AIDS we must fight poverty.People at the lowest income levels are some of those at greatest risk of HIV infection, and the least equipped to deal with the consequences of contracting the disease. AIDS Walk New York helps GMHC provide food, linkages to safe housing, access to medical care, and much more to people who are struggling not only with HIV and AIDS, but also poverty.

With every new piece of legislation that affords equal protection for LGBT people; with every parent who chooses to fully love and support their gay teenage son or daughter; and with every dollar raised at AIDS Walk New York, we move closer to an AIDS-free generation. As the foundations of discrimination crack under their own weight or are toppled by the movers and shakers like those who will walk with us this Sunday, so falls the fear and ignorance that perpetuate hatred of those who are different, and that in turn propel the spread of HIV.

The challenge is great, and must be met with the same energy, compassion, and vision that led us through the dark early years of the AIDS epidemic. Those who join AIDS Walk New York become part of the fabric of social change that will lead to the end of HIV/AIDS.

Craig Miller is the founder of the AIDS Walks and a longtime producer of AIDS Walk New York. He is also president of AIDS Community Action Foundation. His editorial was initially published in The Advocate on May 17, 2012. To register for, or contribute to, AIDS Walk New York, please call (212) 807-9255 (WALK) or visit

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

GMHC Commends FDA's Recommendation on HIV Drug to Prevent New Infections

courtesy of
Thirty years ago, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) formed to pro-actively and aggressively fight a virus that was ravaging large metropolitan cities of America.  As a global leader in developing and supporting best practices to combat HIV, GMHC staunchly supports the expansion of all available tools to combat HIV.  On Thursday, May 10, at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Antiviral Drug Advisory Committee convened a meeting to discuss expanding the usage of an effective HIV anti-retroviral therapy (ART), Truvada.  Clinical research has been conducted since 2007 to explore if the medication could be used not only to hinder HIV replication for HIV-positive individuals, but potentially to stop HIV acquisition altogether for HIV-negative persons as a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

"This new drug indication is the baseline, or building block, for a new type of biomedical HIV prevention," said Marjorie Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC.  "PrEP drug development can be added to the vast array of HIV prevention tools including condoms, HIV testing and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).  Truvada as PrEP will clearly be one of the first iterations for Treatment as Prevention (TasP).  While we do not have all the necessary information about how the public will respond and potentially utilize this medication for prevention; our constituents, clients, family and loved ones deserve complete support to advance HIV prevention."

PrEP, as it stands now, is not the last car on the train.  It is just the beginning.  And GMHC fully supports the FDA in clearing the way for this new indication of ART.  This drug utilization is a step forward in the development of an array of tools that each person who perceives themselves at-risk for contracting HIV may utilize in their cadre to protect his or her health.  HIV is a virus that when left untreated will ultimately kill each person it infects.  Thus, GMHC adamantly supports the development of any modality that will treat the infected person and also any modality that will hinder HIV-acquisition for an uninfected person.  Each available tool helps stop HIV in its tracks.  And Together We Can make this an "AIDS-Free Generation" as President Obama declared.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

GMHC Proudly Commends President Obama's Endorsement of Marriage Equality

Today represents a significant landmark in the fight for marriage equality as President Obama formally endorses that same-sex couples should be able to get married. His announcement is a reflection of his support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and for equal rights.

However, marriage equality for same-sex couples is more than just a matter of equal rights and access to the protections and benefits that marriage equality affords. From a public health standpoint, studies have shown that gay couples in affirmed relationships are less likely to place themselves at risk for HIV. Similarly, homophobia and anti-gay bullying often place LGBT individuals at higher risk for HIV.

"The message that same-sex couples should be able to get married is a positive affirmation that our relationships are just as meaningful and deserve the same recognition as heterosexual couples," said Marjorie Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Gay Men's Health Crisis. "President Obama's demonstrated leadership and commitment to marriage equality is an important milestone in the fight for same-sex marriage, as we move towards full equality for all U.S. citizens, regardless of sexual orientation."

Six states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York) and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex couples to get married and same-sex marriage laws have also been recently passed in Washington and Maryland. While there have been significant gains for marriage equality, recent setbacks, including passage of Amendment One in North Carolina (which prohibits same-sex marriages and civil unions), is a testament that there is still tremendous work to be done. President Obama's support for marriage equality is a strong message that discrimination, homophobia, and a denial of rights will not be tolerated at the federal level.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

GMHC's Meal Program Receives another PERFECT Inspection Report with ZERO Violation Points

by David Hind

I know that we’re all familiar with the NYC Department of Health (DOH) restaurant inspection and ratings system. How many of us have walked away from a restaurant because of that big blue “C” or GRADE PENDING in the window? The strict standards that are used in those inspections are also applied to the GMHC's Meals Program Kitchen & Dining Room. Last year, not too long after we moved into the new space we were visited by a NYC DOH Inspector as expected and did very well. For the first time in the history of the Meals Program we received a perfect inspection report with ZERO violation points. (A DOH “A” rating can include up to 13 violation points.) Clearly the team did a great job maintaining the high program standards and benefited greatly by having a brand new space and all new equipment.

Yesterday, we had a surprise inspection by NYC DOH. The Inspector arrived in the middle of a very busy lunch service and ran through the entire operation, moving equipment and storage shelving, testing the temperatures of all of the food on site (both food in storage and food being prepared and served), checked inside, outside, under, over  and around all of the equipment and service stations, inspected the condiment and beverage station and observed service on the line and throughout the dining room. After compiling all of his notes, measurements and findings he submitted his final report. One year after moving into our new home the Meals Program received another PERFECT Inspection Report with ZERO Violation Points. If they gave non-profit food service programs a posted grade you’d see a Big Blue A+ on the dining room doors thanks to Chef Wilson and his team--Crystal, Lydell and Andre and their support team of students and volunteers! They are a hardworking, dedicated team who do their work with passion and commitment to serve our clients with pride! 

GMHC's Meals Program - A+!

David Hind is the Director of GMHC's Volunteer, Work & Wellness Center.