by Aryn Fields •
The My Body, My Health Initiative Aims to Address the Societal Barriers Multiply Marginalized Communities Face with HIV/AIDS Prevention, Testing and Treatment
WASHINGTON — Today, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, announced the launch of My Body, My Health, a comprehensive public education campaign that works toward building a generation free of HIV/AIDS and stigma. In partnership with minority-serving community-based organizations and youth advocates, the campaign centers the lived experiences of Black and Latinx gay and bisexual men and transgender women of color, while also addressing systemic barriers to medical care that impact health outcomes for LGBTQ communities of color.
Supported by Gilead Sciences, My Body, My Health is a coast to coast initiative that will combat HIV/AIDS by raising awareness about prevention, testing, treatment, sex positivity and providing resources for community-based organizations Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Marginalized populations, including LGBTQ people, face both societal and economic barriers that prevent them from accessing healthcare and communities of color have been hit the hardest—1 in 2 Black gay and bisexual cisgender men and 1 in 4 Latinx gay and bisexual cisgender men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. According to a recent CDC study in seven United States cities, 42 percent of transgender women interviewed had HIV, with 62 percent of Black transgender women and 35 percent of Latinx transgender women already living with HIV.
My Body, My Health will amplify the life-saving work of minority-serving community-based organizations; for this initiative, HRC is partnering with organizations from six areas across the country. The partner organizations not only help their communities with HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infection prevention, testing and treatment, but provide clients with LGBTQ support groups and mental health resources.
The members of HRC’s Community-Based Organization Leadership Council are the principal partners for the launch—those organizations are: Us Helping Us in Prince George's County, MD and Washington, DC; BU Wellness Network in Indianapolis, IN; TruEvolution in Riverside, CA; Arianna’s Center in Miami, FL and San Juan, Puerto Rico; Brotherhood Incorporated in New Orleans, LA; and Community Health PIER in Greenville, MS.
As part of the campaign, HRC created a microsite that features comprehensive information regarding the issues LGBTQ people face around HIV and sexual health, such as: safe sex and beating the odds, debunking myths about HIV, a safe sex guide for trans bodies, LGBTQ mental health services, and informtion on HIV/AIDS employment discrimination.
To complement the microsite, HRC assembled the My Body, My Health toolkit for the six partner organizations, which is designed to increase visibility and awareness of HIV prevention and treatment tools in their regional communities. The toolkit includes a variety of graphics, animations, videos, sample messages and marketing guidance. Additionally, each community-based organization will receive advertisement support via digital media campaigns with produced original photography and video content that focuses on the experiences of LGBTQ people of color.
In the lead up to National HIV Testing Day on June 27, and in partnership with Us Helping Us, the campaign will provide the first-of-its-kind in-home HIV testing kits so people can take control of their sexual health without having to visit a medical provider. Usually, HIV testing is done with a doctor, in a hospital, or at a community health clinic but due to lack of access to healthcare and HIV stigma, marginalized populations often do not receive testing. The in-home testing kits aim to specifically address those disparities by empowering people to learn their status.
HIV/AIDS continues to be a major public health crisis both in the U.S. and around the world. While there have been significant strides and biomedical advancements in HIV prevention, treatment, and care, there is still urgent work to be done for those who are historically marginalized—approximately 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. After 40 years since the CDC first published about HIV/AIDS, there remains no vaccine or cure, and tens of thousands of people continue to contract HIV/AIDS every year. Insufficient funding for public health programs, ideological opposition to common sense prevention policies, and societal barriers have made it especially difficult to turn the tide against the epidemic.
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