WeHo Launches HIV Stigma Survey and ‘Pop-Ups’ on Wednesday

The City of West Hollywood is seeking feedback about stigma experienced as a result of sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. The C\city’s Social Services Division is conducting a short survey as part of efforts to implement the city’s “HIV Zero Strategic Plan.” Community members, regardless of HIV status, are encouraged to provide feedback. A goal of the survey is to understand how stigma impacts access to care and overall health and wellness. The survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/hivzerosurvey.

In addition to the online survey, staff members from the city’s Social Services Division will host two HIV Zero “pop-up” events in October. The first will be held on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the West Hollywood Library, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. The second will be on Oct. 18 from 8 to 10 a.m. adjacent to Starbucks, at 8595 Santa Monica Blvd. at Westmount. Community members are invited to stop by; there will be free giveaways for people who complete surveys.

Stigma and discrimination are potentially the most difficult aspects of HIV/AIDS to address. For people living with HIV, stigma is related to negative psychosocial, physical and mental health issues such as social isolation, anxiety and depression. Among HIV-negative gay and bisexual men and transgender women, sexual orientation-based stigma and gender identity-based stigma can negatively affect mental health, coping skills and willingness to disclose important health information, which has an impact on healthcare access in everything from screenings to interventions, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). The prejudice and discrimination resulting from stigma can be overt, such as barriers to healthcare coverage or employment termination, or subtle, such as social exclusion.

A goal of the City of West Hollywood’s HIV Zero strategic plan is to build an inclusive community that supports underserved groups and honors the contributions made by people living with HIV. Addressing stigma is vital to “getting to zero,” and the community’s input is an essential component of achieving that goal.

For additional information about the city’s HIV Zero strategic plan visit www.weho.org/services/social-services/aids-hiv-resources.

  1. Prep is a HIV drug cocktail to protect HIV negative people from each other. The drop in new infections started 20 years ago when new medications brought viral loads down to undetectable levels. The lack of new HIV infections is from hiv positive people taking medications over the last 20 years. Not from a few people taking Prep .Using Truvada as a party pill that someone can take now and again for guilt free sex is asking for trouble.
    .I’m not a fan of AHF. But as a shareholder, Michael Weinstein did attempt to tie executive compensation at HIV drug maker Gilead to the availability and affordability of HIV medications. CalPERS and CalSTRS are both large shareholders and objected to the lowering of prices. They have a need to make a profit and fund further drug development. So much of the Ryan White/ HIV treatment funding in the US goes to fund the retirement of California state employees and teachers.
    Having lived with HIV for 35 years, I can say the current quality of supportive housing and other services are poor. Even the West Hollywood HIV Nutrition Program disappeared years ago. Much of the STIGMA of HIV is a result of grouping HIV, mental illness, and homelessness into the same category and assuming it is the same thing…..As many of the social and medical workers who were born after the epidemic and have very little understanding of the disease or it’s history. They have not experienced a loved one dying in their arms … they have not attended the funerals of 25 or 30 friends. Many sill assume they can “catch something” because I have a lowered immune system.

  2. Shawn, and Creative One, I’ve sparred with Hank about PrEP since 2013, when I was one of the first people to get on it, a little over a year after it was FDA approved, and most people didn’t know what it was. Around that time (or a year or so after), he had his prejudices against it, thinking that advocating it was going to result in a spike of non-HIV STI’s. We’ve seen a rise, and my argument is that it is attributed to people who are now being tested on a regular basis, but weren’t before. In other words, people that didn’t know they already had it. I could be incorrect. He could be correct.

    Regardless, we’ve seen a massive reduction in HIV transmission. And if that coincides with a spike in curable STI transmissions, I’ll accept that. San Francisco is on track to maybe get through 2017 without a single HIV transmission in 2017 (last I heard). Think about that. The epicenter of the epidemic. And a lot of healthcare experts attribute that to the city’s wide adoption of PrEP.

    But I think it is irresponsible to continue to take AHF’s advertising dollars, and that “PrEP: The Revolution That Didn’t Happen” article as advertisement. This publication has a bias against it. Maybe it has changed, I don’t know. If it has, then its even worse that AHF continues to run these “advertisements.”

    1. Randy:

      Not sure how you are arguing that you have sparred with me about PrEP. I’m an HIV positive man who is an avid supporter of PrEP, with the caution that it, like the medication I take (Genvoya), may have a long term impact on parts of one’s body that we won’t know for years, and with the caution that it won’t protect one from infection with other sexually transmitted diseases if used without a condom.

      So far, the long-term effects of PrEP appear to be minor. According to AIDSMAP: “Use of tenofovir (which is part of Truvada, the drug used in PrEP) has been associated with small decreases in key measures of kidney function (creatinine clearance and glomerular filtration rate, GFR), affecting up to 2% of participants. These returned to normal when PrEP was stopped, including in one study in which people took PrEP for up to five years. Losses of bone mineral density have been minimal and also appear to be reversible.” To me, a man who became infected with HIV in my first instance of condomless sex, the very low likelihood that Truvada will hurt the body makes it a winner, and I recommend it to all my HIV negative friends.

      As to the content of the AHF ad, we don’t accept or refuse advertising based on the positions taken by advertisers (take a look at our political campaign ads), just as we don’t accept or refuse Op-Ed submissions or comments based on the positions of those who offer them.

      And finally, I would suggest that you read the PrEP ad. It does not say that PrEP is ineffective in preventing the transmission of HIV to someone who adheres to the requirement that it be taken daily. It does say, and I quote: “AHF has made clear that we believe that PrEP is a good solution for individuals who have multiple partners and never use condoms.”

      AHF argues that PrEP is ineffective when it comes to battling HIV infections overall because not many people are using it, and it argues that “The big problem is that CDC has abandoned promoting other prevention methods such as condoms. STD rates which indicate high levels of unprotected sex are soaring across the board and yet budgets for the diagnosis and treatment of STDs are being cut.”

      Agree or disagree? That is your right. The primary mission of WEHOville and its sister site, GayLifeLA.com, is to provide not only real news, something hard to find in this town and in this country these days, but to provide a forum where people can debate the issues (so long as they stay focused on the issues and not on one another).

      Please keep those comments coming!

  3. I took the online survey. I found it single dimensional as it only asks questions about stigma from medical providers and PrEP and PEP. It is silent about major life altering stigma most people face: employment, housing, finances, education, social life and dating. These are major factors in overall health and wellness. Let’s not forget about mental health which can be damaged by stigma. Your story and the name of the program appears to mischaracterize the effort.

  4. I second Shawn’s comment. AHF has lost their focus and cannot be viewed as a leading organization in preventing the spread of HIV. The head of AHF is more interested in steering the non-profit into LA real estate issues than the core concern that created the organization in the first place.

  5. How about wehoville stop its practice of running anti-prep ads from AHF? I mean seriously their has got to be a reality check here. PREP works. And weho-ville accepting money from AHF for their anti-prep campaign is shamming PREP

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