Humanizing is Destigmatizing

An artistic endeavour to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and HIV.

Facts about HIV

  • HIV has not gone away, and remains a fatal illness if not treated.  Almost 40,000 Americans still become infected by HIV every year. 
  • The interconnectedness between stigma and HIV make people more vulnerable to HIV, and people living with HIV experience increased levels judgment and discrimination - which undermines participation in research studies, access to health services and deprive them of support.
  • HIV disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, the marginalized - and other under-served and vulnerable populations.
  • Ending the global HIV pandemic requires the development of an effective vaccine.
  • An estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV.  1 in 7 of them (15%) don’t even know they are infected.
  • Globally, 36.7 million people are living with HIV - but only a little over half of them (20.9 million) have access to antiretroviral therapy.
  • In the U.S., only about half (49%) of all people living with HIV have achieved viral suppression (meaning that the amount of virus in their blood is at a very low level).

Vaccine Research

Research is the most important tool in the fight to end the epidemic - and the greatest research need is for an effective HIV vaccine.  Specifically: a vaccine that would prevent HIV infection. 

The development of that vaccine simply cannot happen without community partnership - and the involvement of people who are not themselves infected by the virus.  

This is another place where stigma, misunderstanding and fear are our enemy.  And where facts, awareness and education are essential.

One important message is that you cannot get HIV from the vaccine. That’s because candidate HIV vaccines do not contain infectious HIV, and they are designed with safety in mind - first and foremost.

In fact, HIV vaccine research has been going on for over 25 years and the vaccines have demonstrated a remarkable record of safety.  Dr. Michael Keefer - Director of the Rochester Victory Alliance and of the UR’s vaccine research group - estimates that close to 50,000 people, worldwide, have now participated in HIV vaccine trials.  

How you can get involved in the vaccine effort

Right now, the Rochester Victory Alliance is looking for HIV negative individuals, aged 18-50 years, to volunteer in its HIV vaccine studies.

For more information or to find out how to volunteer for an HIV vaccine trial, contact the Rochester Victory Alliance:

https://www.rochestervictoryalliance.org

PEP and PrEP

Several recent advances have had a major impact on the transmission of HIV. Two that are particularly important are PEP and PrEP.  

As their confusingly similar names suggest, they have much in common.  They both involve the use of antiretroviral medicines (ART) to prevent HIV infection. Where they differ is that one is used after a potential exposure to HIV, while the other is used before a potential exposure.

PEP, which stands for Post Exposure Prophylaxis, involves taking ART after apotential exposure to HIV, to prevent infection.  It’s intended for emergency situations, such as when you’ve been sexually assaulted, or when a condom breaks, or when you had high risk unprotected sex for any other reason.  With PEP, time is very important, since it must started within 72 hours of a potential
exposure.

PrEP, which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, involves taking ART on a daily basis, to prevent infection (i.e., before a potential exposure).  It’s intended for people at very high risk for HIV - and is highly effective, if taken as prescribed. PrEP can also be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to further reduce the risk of getting HIV.

For more information or find out where you could get PrEP: 

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/prep/index.html

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