In light of the alarming increases in HIV/AIDS and STDs for gay men
and men who have sex with men The Guardian Health Association, Inc.
has directed it’s public awareness campaign to specifically focus on
getting tested, being safer, and staying healthy. It is hoped that
these positive messages will appeal to youth, as well as remind people
living with HIV/AIDS to take better care of themselves because they
are worth it.
“Self worth,” believes Guardian co-founder Rev. Alexander R.
Garbera, “is a key determinant to protecting one’s own health and
well being.” This is poignantly demonstrated in some of Rev.
Gerbera’s online research with a bareback sex profile that stated:
“…I stopped caring about myself long ago. I won’t care about u either.
No questions asked as long as I can [bareback]. Can’t remember the
last time tested I don’t care either…” Sex without a condom is
referred to as Bareback.
Rev. Garbera feels that this profile is prototypical of many of the
bareback profiles and chat rooms on line. Some of the bareback chat
rooms are full to capacity, whereas other topic areas have less than
“The emphasis on protecting yourself and your sex partner has
diminished over the last few years. People need to start caring for
their partner’s health, and to have a better self-worth that will
strengthen their ability to avoid high risk behaviors. Self esteem
also impacts people’s use and abuse of alcohol and drugs, which has a
tremendous influence on their decision making process” said
Guardian Health’s President Robert J. Sideleau. Robert is currently
working as a Drug Treatment Advocate for the Cornell Scott Hill Health
Center, and is a certified HIV Testing Counselor.
It is clear that there is mounting evidence that when individuals are in treatment and have thier viral load under control ( undectactable ) they can not transmit the virus to another invidual. This is known as "Treatment as Prevention."
“We also need to rally the community to care again,” said
Rev. Garbera. When he approached several local AIDS Service
organizations and the CT Department of Health, to ask for donations to
help support the ad campaign, the response was pretty much the same.
Funding is tight, and there is not funding for social marketing/public
Luckily, through the kind support of the CT Gay Men’s Chorus and
Metroline Magazine, the ad was printed offering at least a reminder to
the GLBT community that HIV is still and issue and people still need
Much more work needs to be done. To send greatly donations to keep
this important work going, please send them to The Guardian Health
Association, Inc. PO. Box 365, West Haven, CT 06516.
The Guardian Health Association, Inc. receives no federal, state or
grant funding and relies solely on the contributions of its members
and individual supporters.
If a publication would like to print the ad, please send
GuardianHealth@aol.com and an ad can be reformatted for the
The Guardian Health Association
Launches New Social Marketing Campaign
(New Haven, CT, May
24, 2005 )
response to the recent flurry of news stories about the new HIV Super
Virus and the increasing rates of HIV and STD’s in the MSM (Men who
have sex with men) population, The Guardian Health Association, Inc.
is launching a social marketing campaign in an effort to keep these
issues in the spotlight.
known about the ability to pass multi-drug resistant HIV virus for
some time now, so although we are not alarmed at the news per se, we
are very concerned that there is little new and innovated prevention
campaigns to target some of the possible causes,” reports Guardian
Vice-President James F. Taylor, who is also a long term survivor of
HIV/AIDS and is currently working as an HIV Counselor and researcher.
“The problem seems to
be two fold. “
Guardian President Robert J. Sideleau goes on to say, “First we
must target those living with HIV. Encouraging them to take their
medications as prescribed to avoid the development of these multi drug
resistant viruses. Secondly we must empower those with HIV to keep
practicing safer sex. Not only to protect others from getting the
virus, but to keep them from obtaining strains and mutations they
don’t already have, as well as avoiding exposure to other STD’s.” .”
Robert Sideleau, who is living with HIV/AIDS, is an AIDS Activist
and currently works as Project Manager at Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project
in Norwalk, CT.
This is not as easy as it may seem. Since the treatment of HIV
has become increasingly complex, so too have the requirements to
negotiate HIV status in social and dating encounters. Battle worn and
weary, long term survivors may need more than just a simple reminder.
Issues like taking their medications consistently and as prescribed,
protecting themselves and others with safer sex measures, and not to
give up hope in the face of discouraging and difficult medication side
effects, physical problems and even chronic pain. Many may benefit
from motivational counseling, group support or a retreat that can
reenergize a person’s self worth and that offers reaffirmation of the
goodness of life and value of living.
Complicating the issue
in the rise of HIV and STD’s, is the increase in recreational drug
use. Whether the risk is to those who are HIV Negative participating
in riskier behavior, or those with HIV participating in more casual
sex encounters or group sex activities, recreational drug use
dramatically impacts judgment. The link between drug use and HIV
transmission is evident, especially in the MSM population.
Many who have been
living with HIV for a while now may be wondering if it is worth all
the effort; the doctor visits, laboratory tests, HIV medications and
their side effects. Many are sick and tired of being sick and
tired. Others wonder why they need to protect themselves with
safer sex if they already have HIV? Still others think that since they
are on HIV medications or they already have multi drug resistant
virus, why be afraid of getting a few more mutations? There seems to be mounting evidence to support the fact that when individuals are in good medical care, they are much less likely to transmit the virus to their partner.
The fact is there is a lot that can be done, both in of terms
of social marketing, educational programs, retreats, and service
delivery that will address these issues. These approaches are a step
in creating awareness and helping to create both understanding and
behavior change. They are in contrast to other reactions being
proposed in some circles. Suggested responses include mandatory HIV
testing for everyone and/or severe punishments for HIV transmission.
These drastic measures would create burdens on systems that are
currently barely able to cope.
Perhaps the best and cheapest intervention is for those with
HIV to periodically be reminded not to let HIV run them down.
Life is good. Life is worth living, even at those painful and
A 1996 Metroline-Online featured an article titled “Apathy: A
Deadly Opportunistic Infection” which talked
about how apathy was potentially the worst opportunistic infection
arising. That article was written at 15 years into the epidemic. Now,
nearly 25 years into the pandemic, it’s become even more prevalent.
Many of the social
institutions that were created to deal with HIV and AIDS, to prevent
the spread of HIV and offer care for those with the virus, have become
increasingly concerned with budgets, funding and fiscal woes. The
days when real needs determined
the services provided has shifted to the realities of available
services based on funding sources. The passion and activism that
led to their inception has become dampened by the struggle to stay
Depression, Denial, Battle Fatigue, call it what you will, but unless
people in our community stand up and take an active interest, nothing
is going to change for the better. It will take nothing less
than a rededication to our purpose in life and our mission, both
individually and collectively. Guardian Health Association’s social
marketing campaign hopes to bring new awareness and energy to the
fight against HIV/AIDS.
This marketing campaign was made possible by a small
unrestricted educational grant from Gilead Sciences, and made it’s
first debut in the early May issue of Metroline Magazine. The
Guardian Health Association, Inc. plans to run one ad each month. It
is hoped that with additional funding, the campaign can be distributed
to other media as well.
Any one wishing to donate time, talent, money, or resources
should contact Guardian Health Association President, Robert J.
Sideleau at (203) 772-7960 For more information about The
Guardian Health Association, Inc., pleased visit
The Men’s Health Expo
held at the New Haven Gay & Lesbian Community Center on
December 5th was a triumphant success. Attended by
over 37 individuals with an age range from early 20s to late 50s,
people came from as far as Providence, RI, as well as Danbury,
Manchester, and Greenwich Connecticut.
Various services were offered
such as HIV & STD testing and counseling, Body Fat Analysis, Health
Screenings, and Hepatitis A & B vaccinations. The raffle prizes
included a weekend for two in Provincetown at the
Archer Inn, $100 gift
certificates for the Union League Café and
500 Blake Street, as well
as Entertainment Coupon books. Attendants also had access to
lots of information, good food, and give a ways.
The Health Expo is part of the
Connecticut HIV/AIDS/STD Task Force initiatives to help stem the tide
of increasing rates of HIV and STDs in the glbt community.
Recent reports indicated that there is a 11% increase in HIV among men
who have sex with men (MSM) nation wide. In Connecticut, over
81% of the Syphilis cases occurred in the MSM group during 2002 and
2003, and 38% of these new Syphilis cases were also infected with HIV.
Latest statistics show that from January to October of 2004, 76% of
the Syphilis cases were among MSMs.
The success of this event would
not have been possible without the volunteers who made it happen as
well as Metroline, Innewsweekly,
Manhunt.net and the NHGLCC Newsletter for
helping to get the word out. Special thanks to the New
Haven Gay & Lesbian Community Center for hosting the event,
and caring about the health and well being of the community.
The CT HIV/AIDS/STD Task
Force was founded by Dr. Gary Blick, MD, and is a program of
The Global Health Organization. The Task Force is
already busy planning the next health expo to be held on February 20,
2005, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health
Collective. Please visit http://www.hivstd.org for more
details, as well as important fact sheets about HIV and STDS.
Guardian Grants Award
Board of Directors of The Guardian Health Association, Inc. voted to
present Dr. Gary Blick, MD, with an HIV Leadership Award for
his efforts to combat the alarming rise in HIV and STD rates in
Connecticut’s MSM population. The certificate was presented on
June 5th during New Haven’s Pride Celebration “for
outstanding contributions to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender communities, generous support of and service to local AIDS
Organizations and for leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS…”
Video excerpts can be found at:
information about the important work that Dr. Blick is doing with the
CT HIV/AIDS/STD Task force, STD Fact Sheets, and places to get tested