Friday, June 29, 2012

GMHC Thanks City Council For Standing Up for People Living with HIV/AIDS

In the 31st year of the HIV epidemic, HIV/AIDS services faced the prospect of being drastically reduced or eliminated in the Mayor's Executive Budget. HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) contracts were on the chopping block, but for the fourth year in a row the New York City Council took decisive action, stepped in and successfully negotiated to restore this critical funding.  This was no easy task considering the depth of cuts proposed to critical social services.  Supportive housing for people living with HIV/AIDS faced a $5.1 million cut, funding for Momentum's nutrition services for people living with HIV/AIDS and GMHC's Financial Management services were both slated to be eliminated.

"These restorations truly demonstrate New York City Council's unwavering commitment to people living with HIV/AIDS and ending the epidemic," said Marjorie J. Hill PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). "On behalf of our clients who will greatly benefit from these restorations, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Speaker Christine Quinn and all of City Council.  I want to also thank the Councilmembers Annabel Palma and Maria del Carmen Arroyo and LGBT Caucus.  Their leadership and advocacy have made an incredible difference in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS."

GMHC remains committed to working with New York City Council, as well as all of our elected officials in the ongoing fight to end AIDS.  HIV continues to be a real and growing problem in New York City and these services remain as critical as ever.   GMHC continues to strongly advocate for greater access to HIV prevention programs while expanding access to care and treatment services.  As we work towards the National HIV/AIDS Strategy goal of an "AIDS-Free Generation," NYC must remain a steadfast leader in this struggle.

GMHC Salutes Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act

GMHC is heartened by the Supreme Court's ruling to maintain the President's passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This is promising news for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).   ACA will expand healthcare access to include people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV.

It will also provide many Americans with healthcare who have traditionally had reduced access to care. Among those who will immediately benefit from the full implementation of ACA are those most at-risk for HIV infection and poor health outcomes, such as men of color who have sex with men, women of color, transitionally-housed individuals, senior citizens and youth.  

"This is the single most important public health legislation since Medicaid/Medicare, and will impact more people living with HIV/AIDS than Ryan White legislation," said Marjorie Hill, PhD, CEO of GMHC. "We are relieved and proud of having affordable, accessible health care for more Americans."

Upholding this critically important law allows the Obama Administration to continue to advance the ongoing implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  The available tools to realistically stop the growth of this epidemic are finally coming into place. This nation is now better poised to achieve the President's goal of this next generation being an "AIDS-Free Generation."

Of the more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. today, an estimated one in five, or nearly one quarter of a million people, do not know they are infected. One-third of those who are HIV-positive are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection that they are evaluated with AIDS during the first year post-diagnosis. And we have learned that early diagnosis and treatment are mandatory in order to save lives and reduce the spread of HIV.

ACA also has a provision for Medicaid expansion which would benefit PLWHA who need competent and consistent healthcare. However, allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion could potentially result in compromised care in specific regions of the country, contributing to geographic health disparities and will likely disproportionally impact lower-income people.

GMHC will continue to engage the U.S. Congress, state and local governments and federal agencies to ensure that ACA will reach its full potential. We call on our community partners and other public health stakeholders to ensure essential health benefits and best practices are developed--and realized--to the benefit of HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals.

Community-Based Approaches to HIV Prevention that Address Antigay Stigma

School-based interventions, social marketing on family acceptance and community connectedness
Sean Cahill, PhDSean Cahill, PhD
Health Policy Research, Fenway Health, Boston, Mass

Robert Valadéz, MSWRobert Valadéz, MSW
Gay Men’s Health Crisis, New York, NY

Despite 3 decades of advances in HIV testing technologies and medications, HIV continues to burden gay and bisexual men disproportionately, especially within communities of color in the United States. One key structural driver of vulnerability to HIV infection is antigay stigma. To counter the detrimental effects of pervasive antigay stigma, widespread implementation of innovative and replicable HIV prevention interventions that affirm and cultivate the healthy formation of gay identities is strongly needed. This article outlines current community-based HIV prevention approaches addressing antigay stigma being used in the field, often with little or no funding.

LGBT-affirming school-based interventions

Antigay bias is rampant in schools and in urgent need of redress. Several studies show that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth experience higher rates of harassment and violence from their peers because of their actual or assumed sexual orientation (Bontempo & D’Augelli, 2002; Espelage, Aragon, Birkett, & Koenig, 2008; Swearer, Turner, Givens, & Pollack, 2008; Rivers, 2004). Many LGBT students feel unsafe at school and report higher rates of social isolation, depression, suicidal ideation and unprotected sex (Russell, Ryan, Toomey, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2011).

A number of school-based, LGBT-affirming and antibullying interventions are emerging across the country. One such program is the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). GSAs are support groups where LGBT students, those questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, and their straight friends can gather to discuss issues associated with their sexual orientation or gender identity and foster communication with others (Ginsberg, 1999). Currently, 4,000 GSAs are registered throughout the United States. The spate of suicides that occurred in late 2010 among gay men who were victims of anti-gay harassment and bullying underscores the importance of GSAs. Research shows that these interventions are a key resiliency factor for gay youth; young gay and bisexual men in schools with pro-gay interventions report fewer risky behaviors associated with HIV transmission, including unprotected sex (Goodenow, 2007).

One study in Salt Lake City found that students’ academic performance improved, their sense of belonging to the school community was enhanced, and their school attendance increased if they were involved with the GSA (Lee, 2002). Replicating programs such as these is critical to preventing the development of risk behaviors that increase vulnerability to HIV among young gay and bisexual men and transgender women.

Social marketing campaigns promoting family acceptance of gay sons and challenging antigay stigma

Family acceptance of LGBT persons is also central to addressing HIV. Research shows that the greater the extent to which one experiences family rejection because of one’s sexuality during adolescence, the poorer the health outcomes for LGBT young adults (Ryan, Huebner, & Sanchez, 2009). In addition to exhibiting higher rates of substance use, depression, and attempted suicide, participants in the study who were rejected by their families were 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse, compared with peers who reported little to no experiences of family rejection (Ryan et al., 2009).

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) has implemented a series of social marketing campaigns that draw on a strength-based intervention model. Strength-based campaigns are effective in changing an individual’s behavior (Detweiler, Bedell, Salovey, Pronin, & Rothman, 1999; Devos-Comby & Salovey, 2002; Rothman, Salovey, Antone, Keough, & Martin, 1993). One 2008 campaign, titled “My Son Is My Life,” models behavior in which a Black father supports his gay son. Informational palm cards and ads in print media and in bus shelters highlight reactions parents can have when they learn their son is gay and illustrate steps they can take to provide support and love. “I know he is gay, and I don’t always understand, but that doesn’t change my love for him,” the image reads.

Gay Men's Health Crisis ran this campaign. These images appeared in NYC subway trains and stations.

Another campaign, titled “I Love My Boo,” depicts young Black and Latino men in loving, affectionate embraces in public settings — a portrayal of gay men of color rarely seen in mainstream media. “We’re about trust, respect and commitment,” the image reads. “We’re PROUD of who we are and how we LOVE.” The campaign ran in 1,000 subway trains and 150 subway stations in New York City in 2010 to promote positive, strength-based images of Black and Latino gay men, encourage gay men to aspire to committed, long-term relationships, and counter antigay stigma.

A 2008 campaign titled “I know my rights... Do you?” focuses on combatting the stigma transgender women experience in public accommodations by explaining a New York City nondiscrimination ordinance passed in 2002 covering gender identity. Palm cards addressed access to health care, homeless shelters and employment. Research to date on public health issues affecting men who have sex with men (MSM) has largely neglected transgender persons. There are no national data on transgender women and HIV. However, independent studies report that transgender women are among the most vulnerable to HIV infection (Clements-Nolle, Marx, Guzman, & Katz, 2001). Addressing HIV among transgender women requires better surveillance and culturally competent and effective HIV prevention campaigns.

Community connectedness

Community connectedness has also been proven to protect against HIV infection. Greater community involvement counters the negative effects of antigay bias on safer sex practices among gay men by providing social support, enhancing feelings of selfefficacy and positive self-identity, and reinforcing peer norms supporting safer sex practices (Ramirez-Valles, 2002). Greater emphasis on prevention among older adults is also necessary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that most new infections among White gay and bisexual men occur among those who are 30-49 years of age (CDC, 2008). In 2007, 16 percent of new HIV infections were among people 50 and older (CDC, 2007). Evidence suggests that in addition to experiencing anti-gay bias, older gay men also experience issues related to aging and self-esteem. Some older gay men experience aging differently than their heterosexual counterparts, a concept referred to as “accelerated aging” (Rosario, Schrimshaw, Hunter, & Braun, 2006). This experience of feeling older at an earlier age than one’s chronological age presents issues of social isolation for gay men over 40 who are single and equate physical attractiveness with youth. These men may put themselves at risk for HIV by meeting anonymous partners on the Internet and coupling these experiences with substance use.

Identifying the need for HIV prevention among older gay men in 2008, the Fenway Institute in Boston piloted a group intervention to reduce HIV sexual risk, depression-related withdrawal, and anxiety-related social avoidance in gay and bisexual men 40 and older. The intervention, titled “40 and Forward,” was a series of 2-hour weekly sessions that brought together groups of gay men, ranging from 49 to 71 years of age and of multiple races, to socialize and discuss topics like safer sex. Men who participated in the intervention reported a significant decrease in depressive symptoms, as well as a significant increase in condom use selfefficacy (Reisner et al., 2010). It is notable that the intervention also helped socially isolated older gay men develop social support networks, a critical resiliency factor against HIV.

International efforts

Globally, public health specialists are also recognizing the importance of combatting antigay bias to stem the spread of HIV, especially among MSM. The full scope of the global HIV pandemic among MSM is unclear, as most countries fail to gather surveillance data for MSM. However, evidence suggests that the 86 countries which criminalize homosexuality render MSM highly vulnerable to HIV infection because they are forced underground and face multiple barriers to HIV prevention and treatment (amfAR, 2008). In many African countries, the exclusively heterosexual content of HIV prevention campaigns causes gay and bisexual men to think they are not at risk for HIV. A number of studies show a disproportionate impact of HIV on MSM in sub-Saharan Africa (Beyrer, 2008; Saavedra, zazola- Licea, & Beyrer, 2008). One study reported that in middle-and lower-income countries, MSM are 19 times more likely to contract HIV than the general population (Baral, Sifakis, Cleghorn, & Beyrer, 2007).

In 2008, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was reauthorized and included language calling for prevention with MSM and research to understand the impact of HIV on MSM. Also in 2008, the former presidents of Zambia and Mozambique, chairing the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa, issued a report calling for HIV prevention with MSM and opposing legal discrimination against them. The Global Fund for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria is also promoting MSM concerns. In May 2011, the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator issued field guidance on MSM (see U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, 2011). The guidance gives suggestions for providing HIV prevention to MSM in Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere.


The alarming number of HIV infections among gay and bisexual men makes it imperative that U.S. and global agencies as well as state and local health departments combat antigay bias as a public health threat. School-based initiatives that affirm LGBT youth, social marketing campaigns that challenge family rejection and social isolation, and other gay-affirming interventions should be implemented on a broader scale to challenge antigay stigma and promote the health and well-being of gay and bisexual men and transgender women.

About the authors

Sean Cahill, PhD, is the director of health policy research at the Fenway Institute in Boston, Mass., where he oversees efforts to adapt Fenway’s LGBT health and HIV/AIDS research data and findings to better advocate for a progressive public health policy. He was the former managing director of public policy, research and community health at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York and an adjunct assistant professor of public administration at New York University’s Robert Wagner School of Public Service. His policy priorities have included promoting a national HIV/AIDS strategy, advocating for LGBT elders and HIV-positive elders through the Older Americans Act reauthorization, repealing the HIV entry ban, and preventing HIV among gay and bisexual men in Africa and the Caribbean through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He serves on the New York City Ryan White Planning Council.

Dr. Cahill directed the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute from 2001 to 2007, where he led research and policy analysis on demographics, poverty/homelessness, family recognition, aging, voting, the antigay movement, and other topics. He is the author of two books on LGBT family policy and the forthcoming "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in America’s Schools: Research, Policy, and Practice" (University of Michigan Press). His latest publication is “Black and Latino Same-Sex Couple Households and the Racial Dynamics of Anti-Gay Activism” in "Black Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies" (Rutgers University Press, 2010).

Robert Valadéz, MSW, is a policy analyst at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the world’s oldest HIV/AIDS service organization. He was a 2009 recipient of the Urvashi Vaid Fellowship of the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He previously held tenures at the Sexual Health and Rights Project of the Open Society Institute and the Family Services Program of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. He received his master’s degree in social welfare policy from the Columbia University School of Social Work.


amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. (2008). MSM, HIV, and the road to universal access—How far have we come? (PDF, 585KB)

Baral, S., Sifakis, F., Cleghorn, F., & Beyrer, C. (2007). Elevated risk for HIV infection among men who have sex with men in low and middle-income countries 2000–2006: A systematic review (PDF, 297KB). PLoS Med, 4(12), e339.

Beyrer, C. (2008). Hidden yet happening: The epidemics of sexually transmitted infections and HIV among men who have sex with men in developing countries. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 84, 410-412.

Bontempo, D.E., & D’Augelli, A.R. (2002). Effects of at-school victimization and sexual orientation on lesbian, gay, or bisexual youths’ health risk behavior. Journal of Adolescent Health, 30, 364-374.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007). Cases of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and dependent areas, 2007. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 19.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Subpopulation estimates from the HIV incidence surveillance system—United States, 2006. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 57(36), 985-989.
Clements-Nolle, K., Marx, R., Guzman, R., & Katz, M. (2001). HIV prevalence, risk behaviors, health care use, and mental health status of transgender persons: Implications for public health intervention.
American Journal of Public Health, 91, 915-921. doi:10.2105/AJPH.91.6.915

Detweiler, J.B., Bedell, B.T., Salovey, P., Pronin, E., & Rothman, A.J. (1999). Message framing and sunscreen use: Gain-framed messages motivate beach-goers. Health Psychology, 18, 189-196. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.18.2.189

Devos-Comby, L., & Salovey, P. (2002). Applying persuasion strategies to alter HIV-relevant thoughts and behavior. Review of General Psychology, 6, 287-304. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.6.3.287

Espelage, D.L., Aragon, S.R., Birkett, M., & Koenig, B.W. (2008). Homophobic teasing, psychological outcomes, and sexual orientation among high school students: What influence do parents and schools have? School Psychology Review, 37, 202-216.

Ginsberg, R.W. (1999). In the triangle/out of the circle: Gay and lesbian students facing the heterosexual paradigm. Educational Forum, 64, 46-56.

Goodenow, C. (2007, December 4). Protective and risk factors for HIV-related behavior among adolescent MSM: Analysis of Massachusetts Youth Behavior Survey data. Paper presented at the National HIV Prevention Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Lee, C. (2002). The impact of belonging to a high school gay/straight alliance. High School Journal, 85(3), 13-26.

Ramirez-Valles, J. (2002). The protective effects of community involvement for HIV risk behavior: A conceptual framework. Health Education Research, 17, 389-403. doi:10.1093/her/17.4.389

Reisner, S.L., O’Cleirigh, C., Hendricksen, E.S., McLain, J., Ebin, J., Lew, K.,... Mimiaga, M.J. (2010, April). “40 & forward”: A pilot group intervention to reduce HIV sexual risk behavior and improve mental health outcomes among older age men who have sex with men. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Seattle, WA.

Rivers, I. (2004). Recollections of bullying at school and their long-term implications for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Crisis, 25, 169-174.

Rosario, M., Schrimshaw, E., Hunter, J., & Braun, L. (2006). Sexual identity development among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: Consistency and change over time. Journal of Sex Research, 43, 46-58.

Rothman, A.J., Salovey, P., Antone, C., Keough, K., & Martin, C.D. (1993). The influence of message framing on intentions to perform health behaviors. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 29, 408-433.

Russell, S., Ryan, C., Toomey, R., Diaz, R., & Sanchez, J. (2011). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescent school victimization: Implications for young adult health and adjustment. Journal of School Health, 81, 223-230.

Ryan, C., Huebner, D., & Sanchez, J. (2009). Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and Latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults. Pediatrics, 123, 346-352.

Saavedra, J., Izazola-Licea, J. A., & Beyrer, C. (2008). Sex between men in the context of HIV: The AIDS 2008 Jonathan Mann Memorial Lecture in health and human rights. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 11, 9.

Swearer, S.M., Turner, R.K., Givens, J.E., & Pollack, W.S. (2008). ”You’re so gay!”: Do different forms of bullying matter for adolescent males? School Psychology Review, 37, 160-173.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. (2008). Securing our future: Report of the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (PDF, 5.42MB).

U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). (2011, May). Technical guidance on combination HIV prevention (PDF, 5.52MB).


The article was originally published in April 2012 by the American Psychological Association.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Greater Than AIDS and Local AIDS Service Organizations to Provide Free HIV Testing at Select Walgreens Locations

Beginning on National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday, June 27 and continuing through Friday, June 29, 2012, Gay Men's Health Crisis and Harlem United Community AIDS Center will provide FREE [rapid oral] HIV testing at six Walgreens stores in New York City, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.   The rapid HIV test takes approximately 20 to 40 minutes to administer and process. Test results will be delivered by the local AIDS service organization providing the testing on site.

HIV testing is being provided by health departments and local AIDS service organizations at select Walgreens stores in 20 markets across the nation as part of an ongoing collaboration between Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, and Greater Than AIDS, a coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the domestic epidemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Act Against AIDS initiative and the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, the official sponsor of National HIV Testing Day, also are supporting the effort.

GMHC will provide free HIV testing at the following Walgreens stores in New York City on the following dates and store locations:

Wednesday, June 27
  • Walgreens          4 Times Square, Manhattan           8:00 am to 12:00 pm
  • Walgreens          755 Broadway, Brooklyn                  3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
 Thursday, June 28 and Friday, June 29
  • Walgreens          755 Broadway, Brooklyn                  3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Harlem United will provide free HIV testing at the following Walgreens stores in New York City on the following dates and store locations:

Wednesday, June 27 to Friday, June 29
  • Duane Reade     320 West 145th Street                      3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
  • Duane Reade     52 East 14th Street                             3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Of the more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. today, an estimated one in five, or nearly a quarter of a million people, do not know it. One-third of those who are positive are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection they develop AIDS within one year. Early diagnosis and treatment helps save lives and is known to reduce the spread of HIV. The CDC encourages everyone to know their status.
"The expanded offering of testing at these stores is a crucial measure, both for people who do not know their status and for those at risk of HIV," said Marjorie Hill, PhD, CEO of GMHC. "Being offered an HIV test at these stores will also decrease HIV-related stigma. We are proud to partner with Walgreens, Greater Than AIDS, Harlem United and DOHMH to increase opportunities for testing which will allow more New Yorkers to take charge of their health, and access the treatment and care they need."

"Harlem United is excited to be a part of this initiative, which is a natural extension of our geographical and zone-based approach to universal HIV testing in East and Central Harlem," said Steven C. Bussey, CEO of Harlem United Community AIDS Center. "We firmly believe in increasing testing accessibility by bringing testing services to the community through as many sites as possible. The partnership with Walgreens, Greater than AIDS and our local ally --GMHC--is a great way to continue this effort."
In total, 47 Walgreens stores in 20 markets across the nation are participating, including stores in the following cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Calif., Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, D.C. and West Palm Beach, Fla.   An additional 138 Walgreens stores in the participating communities will help publicize the free testing provided by local health departments or AIDS service organizations through in-store messaging, including posters, post cards and in-store audio. Walgreens also will promote National HIV Testing Day with special messages on June 27 on its Times Square digital display, the largest billboard of its kind in the country.

"These testing events provide valuable and vital opportunities to help the communities we serve," said Glen Pietrandoni, Walgreens Senior Manager of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. "Walgreens has supported people living with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic through its ability to offer accessible pharmacy, health and wellness guidance to patients, wherever they live. Our pharmacists are developing relationships, listening to concerns and providing education and support."

This marks the second year in a row that Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS have coordinated with local health departments and AIDS service organizations to allow them to provide free HIV testing at select Walgreens stores. This year, more than twice the number of Walgreens stores and markets will participate. More than 50 participating health departments and AIDS service organizations are providing the testing and delivering results on site, as well as supporting outreach.

"Greater Than AIDS is about communities working together to achieve a greater goal. This is a powerful example of what can be achieved when the public and private sector come together in response to HIV/AIDS," said Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President and Director, Health Communication and Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation, a founding partner of Greater Than AIDS.
Throughout the year, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS distribute HIV informational resources and services at more than 550 Walgreens pharmacies in heavily affected communities. Designated by Walgreens as "Centers of Excellence," these stores have specially-trained pharmacists on hand to offer one-on-one medication counseling and other support services that provide customers living with HIV/AIDS--and their families--with compassionate, confidential care.

For more information, including participating Walgreens stores in each city, visit:

# # #
Gay Men's Health Crisis
GMHC is a not-for-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based organization committed to national leadership in the fight against AIDS.  We provide prevention and care services to men, women and families that are living with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS in New York City.  We advocate for scientific, evidence-based public health solutions for hundreds of thousands worldwide.  For more information, please visit

Greater Than AIDS
Greater Than AIDS is an unprecedented coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States, in particular disproportionately affected groups.  Through media campaigns and targeted community outreach, Greater Than AIDS works to increase knowledge and understanding about HIV/AIDS and confront the stigma surrounding the disease, while promoting actions to prevent its spread.  

The Kaiser Family Foundation -- a leader in health policy and communications -- provides strategic direction and day-to-day management, as well as oversees the production of the media campaign.  The Black AIDS Institute -- a think tank exclusively focused on AIDS in Black America -- provides leadership and expert guidance and directs community engagement.  Greater Than AIDS is developed in support of Act Against AIDS, an effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to refocus attention on the domestic epidemic.  Additional, financial and substantive support is provided by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Ford Foundation and MAC AIDS Fund, among others.

Harlem United Community AIDS Center
Founded in 1988, Harlem United Community AIDS Center (HU) provides a full range of medical, social, and supportive services to predominantly African-American and Latino individuals living with HIV and AIDS, whose diagnoses are often complicated by addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.  Harlem United's mission is to provide full access to quality HIV and AIDS care in order to obtain zero disparities in health outcomes.  HU's community-based health and HIV prevention program employs a two-pronged strategy to educate the Harlem community about their HIV status.  One track targets HIV testing to populations that are disproportionately at risk for HIV, while a second track offers HIV screening and other preventive services block-by-block to persons who may be at risk but are unaware.

As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2011 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens ( vision is to become America's first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 7,855 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

10 Colleges With a History of Gay Pride

Every June, Americans recognize Gay Pride Month via famous parades and other advocacy events promoting marriage equality, adoption, health, teen bullying and suicide prevention, and other social and political issues related to LGBT rights, which directly impact an estimated 10% of the population (and indirectly impact a far higher percentage of loved ones). Because the country is still slowly growing to accept sexual and gender identity minorities, this means many college students head off to their higher education careers isolated, lonely, depressed — or worse. Most campuses these days offer some semblance of a support structure to ensure a safe experience for all LGBT students, and queer studies courses, minors, and majors have started popping up in catalogs across the country. And it’s all thanks to some of the following pioneers, who took a chance on equality when such things still stood as highly taboo.

  1. City College of San Francisco:

    In 1989, City College of San Francisco revolutionized LGBT and queer studies when Jack Collins established America’s very first department promoting the inchoate field. Founded upon Dan Allen’s pioneering 1972 gay literature course taught in the English department, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Studies Department really wowed students, teachers, and administrators when it launched, attracting hundreds of enrollees for some of its courses. Because the school sits in one of the world’s most LGBT-friendly cities, the classes beneath the organization’s umbrella often benefit from the surrounding communities’ participation and input.
  2. Indiana University:

    More famous for Alfred Kinsey’s in-depth studies of American sexual habits at a time when such things popped monocles and inspired pearl-clutchings, Indiana University also happens to exist as a largely LGBT-friendly campus. Activist Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride fame also established the Lambda 10 project here alongside the school’s Greek leaders in 1995. Today, it exists as the only nonprofit fully dedicated to making fraternity and sorority houses safe spaces for LGBT students. Notable, because neither institution enjoys the healthiest reputation for inclusiveness, tolerance, and equitability.
  3. University of California, Berkeley:

    Spring 1970 saw this historically progressive college offering up the nation’s very first undergraduate course in queer theory. Other schools in Illinois, New York, and even Nebraska quickly followed suit, paving the way for an entire academic field. The Gay Bears Collection pulls from Berkeley’s extensive archives — as well as its own inquiries — to provide students, faculty, staff, and visitors with detailed information about both hidden and not-so-hidden names, dates, and faces involved in the campus’ LGBT history.
  4. University of Michigan:

    Many — if not most — colleges and universities these days sport some form of official LGBT outreach, usually through an organization or dedicated student services department. University of Michigan launched the very first back in 1971, inspiring more and more to follow suit and provide comfort and safety to an unfairly marginalized segment of the community. Known as the Spectrum Center, it has spent the past four decades ensuring an equal place for LGBT students, faculty, and staff.
  5. Kent State University:

    One of the oldest, most inspiring LGBT student organizations in the nation started at Kent State University in 1971, following the precedent set by Berkeley’s groundbreaking undergraduate courses. It started out as the Kent Gay Liberation Front and set about organizing talks, rallies, and even classes on the cause of equality. More than 70 people showed up to the very first meeting scheduled by sociology student Bill Hoover and English professor Dolores Knoll, and the school’s administrators largely supported their banding together and coming out.
  6. Yale University:

    When it comes to the more staunchly traditional Ivy League schools, one probably doesn’t think them bastions of LGBT tolerance and equality, though Yale has historically held a more progressive stance on the matter than its associates. It became the first of its type to organize a Gay Rights Week, rally, and dance celebrating sexual and gender diversity in 1977. Three years later, the school established a Gay and Lesbian Co-Op, which continued promoting LGBT rights, hosting lectures, promoting poetry and film, and other events furthering the cause.
  7. University of Chicago:

    Thanks to LGBT Phoenixes, America’s third-largest city enjoyed its very first gay rights organization, which quickly branched out into groups and events not affiliated with an academic establishment. The University of Chicago Gay Liberation Front banded together in 1969, and OutLaw — dedicated to LGBT law students — followed suit in 1984. By 1992, it was offering the very same domestic partnership benefits to lesbian and gay couples as it did heterosexuals.
  8. Oberlin College:

    Oberlin College frequently lands on lists of the most LGBT-accepting institutes of higher learning in the United States. While its older nature meant at some point it did, in fact, reflect the overarching climate’s prejudices, by the 1960s some semblance of sociopolitical revolution began burbling to the surface at the Conservatory. The 1970s saw more organizations, rallies, dances, and other events bringing the fight to campus, with the Oberlin Gay Liberation Front establishing itself in 1971. More contemporary scholars enjoy the Oberlin College LGBT Community History Project, which offers up first- and second-person accounts of LGBT community history both at the school and the broader social climate.
  9. Columbia University:

    Yale may be one of the most notable Ivy League schools when it comes to sexual and gender identity equality, but it certainly doesn’t fly solo. Since 1967, the Columbia Queer Alliance has served as a safe haven and political rallying point for its LGBT student community — the very first of its kind in the world. Originally known as the Student Homophile League, organizers had to fight, fight, fight, and bite, bite, bite for years before Columbia officials finally green-lighted their group. It stood as one of the cornerstones of the equality movement before the Stonewall Riots two years later inspired others to action.
  10. Williams College:

    Thanks to the efforts of Daniel R. Pinello and his 1971 Williams Advocate article “The Homosexual at Williams: Coming Out,” students felt inspired to embrace their sexuality and group together in 1976 as the Williams Gay Support Organization. Reaction to its establishment and subsequent events, which included frank discussions about AIDS, coming out, and even a support hotline, showing love and support to a marginalized minority proved extremely mixed, if not outright hostile. In fact, much of the administration actively shot down attempts to celebrate diversity and promote equality. It wasn’t until 1985, when instances of bullying whipped up a crowd of 300 supporters, that the campus started turning around.
    The article was originally published on June 11 on

Thursday, June 7, 2012

At Historic Stonewall Inn, LGBT Groups Condemn Stop and Frisk, Unveil National Coalition to Fight Racial Profiling, Police Harassment

CEO Marjorie Hill provided remarks at the coalition launch
On Tuesday, June 5, at the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where a backlash against police harassment in June 1969 launched the modern LGBT rights movement, LGBT organizations from around the country joined civil rights leaders, labor leaders, and elected officials to announce support for the campaign against stop and frisk, and participation in the Father's Day silent march against racial profiling, which has been organized by the NAACP, National Action Network, and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

The Stonewall gathering was convened by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which played a lead role in bringing LGBT organizations together to unveil this unprecedented national coalition that will apply a new source of pressure on the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg to curtail the stop and frisk policy. At the event, stop and frisk was criticized by a long list of speakers who called it both ineffective as a public safety tool and blatantly discriminatory against LGBT people and people of color.

A diverse group of participants connected the LGBT movement and civil rights movement through shared experiences with police harassment and discrimination based on identity. A full list of LGBT organizations endorsing the march is available here and below are statements from numerous participants in the Stonewall gathering.

"Too many people have been victimized and harmed by the stop and frisk policy, and we plan to march in record numbers on Father's Day to show that discrimination, harassment, and profiling based on identity is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This is one struggle-one fight-we're all committed to winning. The fight against stop and frisk is a LGBT fight, a civil rights fight, a labor movement fight, a fight for justice and equality-a fight that unites all of us as one movement. We're telling the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg that all New Yorkers deserve to live free of discrimination and harassment," said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

"There is no better time than LGBT Pride month and no better place than the Stonewall Inn to unveil this national coalition of organizations and to show that shared experiences with police harassment and discrimination unify LGBT people and people of color. By coming together, we are telling the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg that as advocates for equality and justice, we are mobilizing against criminalization based on identity," said Jeffrey Campagna, a National LGBT Advocate and Movement Strategist and Co-Chair of the LGBT Table of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling.

"Police violence has always been and continues to be an LGBTQ issue: in our 2011 report we found that transgender people, people of color and transgender people of color were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to experience police violence throughout the country," said Sharon Stapel, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project and Co-Chair of the LGBT Table of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling. "Police profiling and targeting is institutionalized racism, homophobia and transphobia aimed at the people who don't conform with rigid race, gender or sex roles and is unacceptable state-sanctioned violence and AVP is actively working on solutions to end profiling and targeting. For as long as we are policed because of who we are, how we look, or who we choose to have sex with, racial profiling and stop and frisk will be an LGBTQ issue."

"I'm proud to stand with LGBT leaders in support of the Father's Day March," said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "Together we can send a message that more must be done to significantly reduce the number of unwarranted stops and to bridge the divide between the NYPD and the communities they serve."

"The coming together of civil rights leaders and LGBT leaders on this issue is a historic union with broad social and political ramifications. If we fight for each others' issues it broadens and strengthens each respective movement," said Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network, a convener of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling, and MSNBC host, who endorsed marriage equality in 2004.

"The African American and LGBT communities have long histories of being harassed by the police," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP President and CEO, a convener of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling. "In this silent march to end racial profiling we will stand together to tell City Hall and NYPD that discriminatory policing policies like stop-and-frisk will not be tolerated."

"We are proud to stand with the LGBT community on this important issue. Stop and frisk is a concern for all communities in this City as the young men who are so often targeted are our sons, brothers, nephews -- future fathers and community leaders. That's why on Father's Day, June 17th, 1199 SEIU will join with civil rights, faith, labor and community groups in a silent march to raise awareness on the city's stop and frisk policy. We urge all New Yorkers concerned about the future of our children and safety in our communities to march with on Father's day to take a stand against racial profiling," said George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a convener of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling.

"The reality is that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color - including myself- are among those subjected to over 685,000 stops and frisks by the NYPD last year and we have been at the forefront of resistance to abusive policing long before Stonewall," said Chris Bilal a survivor of stop and frisk and a Youth Leader from Streetwise and Safe, an organization focused on the policing of LGBTQ youth of color. "Sometimes our experiences are no different than the rest of our communities, and sometimes they are marked by homophobia and transphobia in addition to racism and policing of poverty."

"As a transgender woman and a long time New Yorker, criminalizing a generation of young men in our city does not make me feel safe, not when the police confiscate 700 guns from 700,000 stops. It is time for the mayor and police to revisit the stop and frisk policy and replace it with common sense policing, based on real crime and not racial clichés," said Melissa Sklarz, Director of New York Trans Rights Organization (NYTRO) and President of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City.

"We stand united against racial profiling and police harassment on the basis of a person's identity. LGBT people, especially those of color, know painfully well what it's like to be targeted and demeaned in this way," said Stacey Long, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Just as there was no sound reason to raid the Stonewall Inn in 1969, there is no sound reason to stop and frisk black and Latino men in 2012 simply for being who they are. This must end now."

"As a legal organization, Lambda Legal knows that a policy that alienates hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from law enforcement because of racism or homophobia, making people afraid of police and thus to report crimes or come forward as witnesses, does not make us safe," said Kevin M. Cathcart, Executive Director, Lambda Legal.

"Public safety is important but must not be a noose around the neck of young men of color, constraining them from reaching their potential and unfairly stigmatizing them. Stigma and shame often lead to devaluation of self and promotion of risky behaviors," said Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).

"LGBT Americans know too well what it means to be the target of biased policing and we are standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies to say that no group should be singled out for unfair treatment. While groups like the National Organization for Marriage have been exposed in trying to drive a wedge between the LGBT and people of color communities, we know the truth is that our communities overlap and intersect in ways that bring us together," said Marty Rouse, National Field Director, Human Rights Campaign.

"In 2012, Commissioner Ray Kelly and the NYPD are on course to make over 800,000 "Stop and Frisks"! An increase of 1000% since 1999. Many of the "stops" involve LGBT people of color, members of the transgender community and our homeless LGBT youth. It is an unjust practice that is criminalizing an entire generation, and robs us of our essential dignity as human beings," said Robert Pinter, Campaign to Stop the False Arrests Police Reform Organizing Project.

"As a rabbi, as a lesbian, I am profoundly aware of the ways that "stop and frisk" police techniques have been used as weapons against Jews and gay people. It is wrong when it is used against and to intimidate gay people or Jews, and it wrong when it unfairly targets young men of color. Justice demands that we stand together. I'm proud to be here today," said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.

"Stop-and-frisk abuses and other discriminatory NYPD practices exemplify racial profiling at its worst --targeting low-income communities of color throughout New York City and undermining public safety. Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is proud to stand with LGBT New Yorkers and others who are affected by racial and gender profiling by the NYPD, and who are mobilizing to end discriminatory, unlawful and ineffective NYPD practices," said Joo-Hyun Kang, Director, Communities United for Police Reform (CPR).