health

The Silent HIV Crisis Sweeping the American South by TONIC

Gay black men are hardest hit by HIV in the American South. TONIC post a short video about some of the hardships that gay black HIV positive men face in Mississippi.

Find TONIC’s video description here:

TONIC (VICE’s new health channel) travels to Jackson, Mississippi, one of the hardest hit Southern cities, to investigate why black gay men are getting diagnosed and falling to a disease that can be managed. We’ll discuss issues tied to systematic racial discrimination, such as low income and poverty, lack of access to adequate health care, limited HIV testing and education and stigma attached to the virus. We’ll meet heroic social workers and researchers struggling to bring HIV+ the care they need, as well as HIV+ men who are speaking out about their disease in hopes of changing the stigmas attached to it.

HIV diagnoses in the United States have generally plummeted since the 1980’s, and treatment strategies are now so effective that some are beginning to talk about the end of the AIDS epidemic. However, for gay black men in America, the chances of getting HIV in a lifetime are still one in two. In some Southern states, the rates of infection for black men who have sex with men rival rates in underdeveloped countries like Botswana. Once diagnosed with HIV, these men are unable to access the medicine, clinical resources and psychological support they need to keep life ­threatening AIDS diagnoses at bay.

Still a ways to go with HIV/AIDS

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Sadly, I keep reading stories like the one published on World AIDS Day on Quartz. Its a story about an increase of HIV infection rates in China. Again we see that this is mainly due to a 400% increase of infection among men who have sex with men. Not only are infection rates increase, but so are the deaths caused by AIDS.

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I often get the impression that many people do not see the disease as a threat any more. They often have the idea that through modern drug therapies, HIV has become a chronic disease and is no longer deadly if well managed. Yet they forget that people are still dying from these disease world wide. This is why I was happy to see the attention given to this disease this year on World AIDS Day (1st of December). I volunteer for the Man tot Man unit of the GGD Amsterdam, and was at this years Love Dance which is a event meant as a closing of the World AIDS Day commemorations and events.

The GGD Amsterdam was at this  party to offer free anonymous HIV testing. And I was happy to see people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientation getting tested. Even though its a small group, at least it promotes awareness of this epidemic and that the fight has not yet been won.

My new adventure

Photo credit: Maria Fabrizio for NPR (source)

Today I have been informed that I have been accepted to the Medical Anthropology and Sociology Masters program at the University of Amsterdam. This makes me quite happy since it has been a long road to get here and there is a long but exciting road ahead.

After completing my degree in physiotherapy I realized that I wanted to head in another direction. I took a year off and after this year started looking into my options. One thing I realized along the way was that one of my biggest interests is the LBGTIQ community. This is why I plan to conduct my research in this direction and hope to be able to focus it on the LGBTIQ of the (dutch) caribbean. This is a group that sadly is virtually invisible in research in health.

It will be nice to share my journey on my blog the coming year.

Film: Silverlake Life: The View From Here *****

Silverlake Life: The View From Here 

U.S.A. [1993] Documentary.

I watched this documentary years ago while studying in the US for my HIV/AIDS class. At the time they only had the DVD available for watching in the library at the university. I found myself crying my eyes out while sitting and watching this film in the library. It was both beautiful and horrific at the same time. I recommend watching it when in a stable emotional state.

(Source: youtube.com)