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“HIV Awareness” Ad Addresses Rising Concerns

June 8, 2010

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 half capacity.

“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.

“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 awareness campaigns.

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 to care.

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 specifications to GuardianHealth@aol.com  and an ad can be reformatted for the publication.

AIDS Service Organizations hosting special events for National HIV Testing Day are also welcome to post them to the CT Statewide HIV Community Calendar at  http://www.guardianhealth.org/posting_instructions.htm  for posting instructions.

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Guardian Archives:

Don’t Let HIV Run You Down

The Guardian Health Association Launches New Social Marketing Campaign

 (New Haven, CT, May 24, 2005 )

 In 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.

 “We’ve 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?

 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 scary times.

 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 afloat.

 Apathy, 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 http://www.GuardianHealth.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Ad views of the Guardian Ads at www.manhunt.net

 

 

 (12/10/05)  New Haven Expo a Triumph

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.

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(6/5/2004) Guardian Grants Award

The 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:

  For more 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 visit www.hivtest.org

 

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