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New Safer Sex Guide Provides Crucial Advice On Prevention, Treatment, Wellness

June 8, 2015
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HRC partners with Washington-based Whitman-Walker Health in effort to make sexual health a priority

WashingtonToday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, in collaboration with Whitman-Walker Heath (WWH), released an updated guide to practicing safer sex that includes essential tips to minimize the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The guide, “Safer Sex,” an updated version of the first edition released five years ago, is written for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, covering topics ranging from basic facts about HIV and STIs, and the importance of practicing safer sex, to the role of new HIV prevention regimens including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or “PrEP.”

The pocket-sized publication is the latest collaboration between the HRC Foundation and WWH, building on their shared commitment to securing the health and well-being of LGBT people in the nation’s capital and beyond.

“It’s a fact that many LGBT people don’t see themselves, or their relationships, discussed in mainstream sexual health resources,” said Jay Brown, the HRC Foundation’s Director of Research and Public Education. “With rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections on the rise among young people and in communities of color, HRC and Whitman-Walker remain committed to providing crucial health and wellness information in a way that is medically accurate, culturally competent, and judgement-free.”

While the LGBT community continues to make extraordinary strides in equality, sexual health remains a top concern. We are still facing staggering rates of HIV in the U.S. -- driven largely by misinformation, stigma and societal barriers to information and care, including discrimination and poverty.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States are gay and bisexual men, who also make up two-thirds of new HIV infections each year. The updated guide is released at a time when:

  • Roughly one in seven people in the U.S. do not know their HIV status;
  • One in four of new HIV infections are occurring among young people between the ages of 13 and 24;
  • Gay and bisexual men and transgender women who are African American or Latino/a continue to bear the biggest HIV burden.

Lesbian and bisexual women may not be as susceptible to the spread of HIV as their male counterparts, but they remain at risk of other STIs, including genital herpes and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which can lead to cancer. Though more research is needed, data show that transgender people – particularly transgender women of color -- are much more likely to have HIV than the general population.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on this update of the Safer Sex Guide, which we first produced in 2010,” said Justin Goforth, Director of Community Relations at Whitman-Walker Health. “This new version includes exciting updates on the power of HIV treatment as prevention, PrEP, and a chart that outlines possible STI risks associated with different types of sex.”

“There is such a need for affirming safer sex information that pulls no punches,” Goforth said, “and this guide is it.”

The guide expands on the HRC Foundation’s recently-released plain-language resource, What Do I Do? A Handbook to Understanding Health & HIV, which details the current realities of HIV prevention, treatment, and care. The online version of the handbook offers a “What Do I Do If….” feature that allows users to click on topics ranging from “What do I do if...I don’t know anything about HIV,” to “What Do I Do If...my partner has HIV?”

As part of HRC Foundation’s increased effort to get good, reliable sexual health information in the hands of the LGBT community, the organization will also release Spanish-language editions of Safer Sex and What Do I Do? this summer.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Established in 1978, Whitman-Walker Health is a non-profit, community health center serving the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Through four sites in the District of Columbia, Whitman-Walker Health offers primary medical care and dental care; mental health and addiction counseling and treatment; HIV education, prevention, and testing; legal services; medical adherence case management; and more. Whitman-Walker Health is committed to meeting the needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and people living with HIV and AIDS.  

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