Tag Archive | "HIV"

National HIV Testing Day 2014

By D. David Kinney

Friday is National HIV Testing Day and organizations throughout America are calling on individuals to learn their status by getting tested for HIV. Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, a contributor for the AIDS.gov blog, explained on the site yesterday that National HIV Test Day is “a day on which we join with partners from all walks of life to promote HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV across the United States, and remind every American that HIV testing saves lives.”

If you live in Atlanta there are several great doctor’s offices, organizations and clinics where you can get tested. Some also offer free testing. Additionally, you may need an appointment at some locations. Here are a few along with links to their websites:

AID Atlanta

Positive Impact

Someone Cares of Atlanta


Piedmont Avenue Health & Wellness

Dr. T. Douglas Gurley

Select Walgreens locations in the Atlanta metro area are also offering free HIV testing on Friday and Saturday in honor of National HIV Testing Day. You can receive a free HIV test on Friday from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at these Georgia stores:

2711 Metropolitan Parkway Southwest Atlanta, GA 30315

3740 Cascade Road Southwest Atlanta, GA 30331

2035 Candler Road Decatur, GA 30032

631 Professional Drive, #100, Lawrenceville, GA 30046

4120 Austell Road Austell, GA 30106

2351 Dawson Road Albany, GA 31707

7935 Tara Boulevard Jonesboro, GA 30236


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CDC Launches ‘Start Talking. Stop HIV’ Campaign

By D. David Kinney

Atlanta’s very own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a new campaign on Wednesday called Start Talking. Stop HIV. The goal is to foster dialogue between gay and bisexual men about HIV risk and prevention by highlighting “real-world gay and bisexual men talking openly with their partners and sharing their experiences about HIV.”

It’s a bold step forward by the CDC, and the campaign’s timing is spot on after last week’s major announcement that the CDC now recommends health-care providers consider prescribing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to patients at risk of contracting HIV. If you’d like to learn how PrEP works, click here.

According to the CDC, “Research suggests that communication leads to behaviors, such as testing and HIV status disclosure, that can help reduce HIV risk. However, important conversations about HIV do not occur within many relationships due to fear of discrimination.”

For more information about the CDC’s new Start Talking. Stop HIV. campaign, click here.

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Commissioned For A Better Atlanta

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Joan Garner is originally from Washington D.C. but she has called Atlanta home since 1978. In fact her love for the city prompted her to become a Fulton County Commissioner in 2010 – a job she appreciates so much that she will be running for re-election this year.

In 2010, Joan Garner made history by becoming the first openly gay commissioner to serve Fulton County, GA. She has since proven her worth to the residents of Fulton County by performing official duties l like setting policy, approving the county budget and providing funding for Grady hospital. Her 2010 campaign focused strongly on building healthy communities and her 2014 re-election campaign’s focus remains overall the same: “Healthy citizens means you have a healthy county where people are able to work and create value,” Commissioner Garner explains, “I strongly endorse preventative measures that will create a strong and healthy work force and I will continue to do so in my new campaign.” In her mind, it is important to address the needs of all citizens, which for her means taking a bird’s eye perspective on things when it comes to promoting health and building a better community.

Because of her personal relationship – she is married to Judge Jane Morrison and they reside in the Old Fourth Ward – Garner also has an eye on current LGBT issues in Atlanta and Georgia as a whole.

“Discrimination is still a factor when you look at it broadly,” Joan Garner says, “There are still issues that directly target our rights as LGBT people. Gay marriage is still not legal and gay people still experience discrimination when it comes to housing and employment. The same goes for parenting and adoption where LGBT people just don’t have the same rights as others.” She also sees HIV/AIDS as a major issue for Atlanta’s gay community. Although the fight against HIV/AIDS is largely improving, it still has the power to instill fear in others and, for example, prevent people from coming out in the workplace. “It is still a group of citizens whose rights are not protected and, of course, I want to work toward changing that,” Commissioner Garner says, “The fact that I am an out lesbian provides me with a unique lens that I use when looking at legislation policy to make sure it becomes more inclusive.”

In the big picture, the U.S. has come a long way concerning gay rights, but zooming in on Georgia there are still major breakthroughs to be had. Gay marriage is still not recognized and legislation here seems to move very slow. Also, there have recently be en attempts made to approve bills that could potentially legalize discrimination against gays. Garner acknowledges that there is a long way to go: “Personally, I cannot sit still and let this happen, because I know what discrimination feels like—albeit from another arena. I’m not sure it will go away, but I do see an opportunity here. Because if there is something that needs to be protected, let’s come together and make that happen. I believe that out of push-back and out of friction comes growth.”

And how about gay marriage? When will it become legal in Georgia? Will it ever? Commissioner Garner remains optimistic here also. Being married herself (they tied the knot in Massachusetts), Garner strongly believes in the official union of two people: “I’ve been married four years now, but I don’t think Georgia is there yet. But I think we have a strong case with a lot of legislators that back it up. We have a good civil debate and also the mayor has come out in support of gay marriage—kudos to him on this action. It’s people like him and other fair-minded legislators that have voiced their support who will help turn this around for us. So maybe we won’t see legalized gay marriage this year or not even next year. But it is gaining momentum.”

The primary election for the Fulton County Board of Commissioners is May 20. Republican-led redistricting means Garner, elected to the District 6 post, is running for the District 4 seat. Garner’s re- election bid has been officially endorsed by Georgia Equality.

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How Does HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Work?

By D. David Kinney

Truvada is a medication that some gay men are taking to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. This type of HIV preventative is known as PrEP, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Currently, Truvada is the only PrEP medication approved by the F.D.A. 

Researchers have found that Truvada can significantly reduce the risk of contracting HIV (up to 99% protection) if it is taken regularly. However, it’s important to note that this medication is not a cure for HIV. If you’ve recently been exposed to HIV your doctor may prescribe different medication known as PEP, Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. The names are similar, but the medications work differently. 

So how does HIV PrEP work? YOUREKAscience and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation have created a fantastic video that explains the science behind PrEP and how it can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. You can watch their entire video below. If you’re interesting in protecting yourself with PrEP medication talk to your doctor about your sexual activity. If you’re located near Atlanta, AbsoluteCARE (404-231-4431) and Piedmont Avenue Health & Wellness (404-588-4680) specialize in this field of medicine and can help with starting PrEP.

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AIDS No Longer Ranks In Top 10 Cause Of Death In NYC

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Although the ranking itself is dreary, it does provide the LGBT community with some good news. Because for the first time since 1983 where the HIV/AIDS epidemic was exploding, AIDS is no longer listed among the top ten causes of death in 2012 in New York City according to NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett.

The reason for this is due to better medicine, treatment and effective preventative campaigning for protected sex. This means that the number of new HIV infections, which is around 3,000 per year in the New York area, has remained steady or even declined slightly from year to year.

Although this good news does not mean that there isn’t still a lot of work do, it is a hopeful sign for a brighter future – perhaps with no HIV/AIDS? United Nations officials have already given their optimistic prognosis saying that the global HIV/AIDS epidemic could be over by 2030 as a result of medical advances, treatment, control and prevention of the virus.

source: nydailynews.com, queerty

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Kiehl’s and Keys Collaborate On HIV Charity

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Singer and songwriter sensation Alicia Keys has teamed up with skincare brand Kiehl’s to raise money for Keys’ charity Keep A Child Alive–an initiative founded in 2002 that raises awareness and money to support innovative, community-led responses that increase access to life-saving HIV treatment and care, nutritious food, and loving support for children and families living with and affected by HIV in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and India.

A very good cause considering that 72% of children who need HIV treatment are not receiving it.  By purchasing the special edition Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, you can join the movement and help get HIV treatment and loving care to children who need it the most. Buying just one bottle of Midnight Recovery Concentrate helps Keep a Child Alive provide one month of HIV care, medicines and love to a child living with HIV.    

Apart from supporting a great charity, why should I buy this product, you might ask? Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery is a customer favorite–in fact, one is sold every minute around the world. The reason is quite simple: the facial oil is infused with numerous botanical extracts that work at night to replenish, strengthen, smooth and hydrate your skin. Plus, it’s perfect for both for both men and women. Regardless of skin type you will notice the difference on your skin–especially now when it is still chilly outside and the weather is changing by the minute. Check out the limited edition Alicia Keys Midnight Recovery Concentrate right here.

Naturally, you can also choose to donate money directly to the organization – visit keepachildalive.org to see how.

(Kiehl’s has provided the press material for the purpose of this post)

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Joining Hearts 26

Atlanta’s favorite pool party is finally here! Joining Hearts 26 is set to make a huge splash this weekend with hundreds of guys in their swimsuits, complimentary Smirnoff cocktails, DJ Luis Perez, and DJ/Remixer Joe Gauthreaux. The party starts this Saturday at 4 p.m. and goes until 11 p.m. at the Piedmont Park Aquatic Center.

Joining Hearts’ pool parties are always fun and lighthearted; however, the work the organization does is serious and desperately needed. “Joining Hearts isn’t just about a party or an event; it’s a lifesaver and a tribute to life. To keep the connection to our mission, we remind our guests of the ongoing need for housing, and the important history our organization — even gong so far as to create displays noting how and where the money is spent,” the organization says on their website.

This year Joining Hearts is celebrating 26 years of serving those in need. It is their passion and dedication for helping Atlantans living with HIV and AIDS with housing support that fuels their success.

General admission tickets are sold out. However, you can still purchase a VIP ticket for $175 by clicking here. What is the benefit of VIP? You’ll have access to a private bar with complimentary Smirnoff cocktails, an air-conditioned exclusive VIP lounge experience, and delicious food by Bridge Catering.

Want to know the best thing about your ticket to Joining Hearts 26? “100% of every dollar raised through ticket sales and tips is donated to our beneficiaries, AID Atlanta and Jerusalem House,” according to Joining Heart’s website.

This year all tickets to the event are electronic. So, you don’t have to worry about printing anything out. Just remember to bring your ID. You have to be 21+ to get in. The Weather Channel, right now, is reporting a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms on Saturday. But, don’t fear! The event will go on rain or shine. Last year’s event had occasional showers and the party didn’t miss a beat.

Want to stay up to date on everything Joining Hearts 26? You can follow #JH26 or sign up for text alerts here.

Still not sure what to expect? Check out our photos from last year:






























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Vote for Georgia Equality’s Video And Win!

Want to help spread the word about HIV prevention, help Georgia Equality win $4000, and be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Six Feet Under for yourself? Sounds like a win-win-win to us!

AIDS United asked organizations to create a video that persuades viewers to use the tools available to them in their “HIV prevention toolbox.” The video that gets the most votes will win $4000 to help with their organization’s work. 

You can click here to vote for Georgia Equality’s video on AIDS United’s Facebook page. Want to win the $50 gift certificate? Just share the video on your own Facebook page. One lucky person who shares the video will win the gift certificate!


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What’s Your Status? Today is National HIV Testing Day!

HIV. There is no way to sugarcoat reality. It is important to know your status and to get tested regularly. Luckily, today is the 19th annual National HIV Testing Day and there is no better time to get tested. The CDC currently estimates that 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV. Sadly, 1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it. Do you know your status?

According to Doctor Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, “Every time someone gets tested for HIV, we are one step closer to ending the AIDS epidemic. Learning your HIV status opens the door to powerful HIV prevention and treatment options that could save your life or the life of someone you love.”

“If more Americans were tested as recommended, we could prevent thousands of needless HIV infections and deaths. National HIV Testing Day serves as a reminder to take a stand against one of the key issues driving this epidemic — not knowing your HIV status,” Mermin reiterated.

Also helping with the fight against HIV/AIDS is OraQuick. OraQuick is the first FDA-approved at-home test for HIV-1 and HIV-2. The test is painless and you get the results in 20 minutes. Plus, you can test in the privacy of your home. To find OraQuick in a store near you, click here.

No matter how you test it is important that you know your results. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “The Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] has already expanded access to free HIV screening for many people.”

However, according to Georgia Equality, “Sequestration and other budget cuts already have resulted in cuts of $375 million from the federal government’s response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic.” So what does this mean for Georgia programs that our community relies on? “We can predict that cuts to HIV prevention will lead to fewer HIV testing and outreach efforts which will lead to increased infections.”

It is because of such cuts that free testing programs, like those at Pride Medical, are so incredibly important. Take advantage of this valuable resource while it is still free.

“Take the Test and Take Control.”

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“The Tripoli Tour” Comes to Blake’s

Interview by Dino Thompson-Sarmiento, Senior Writer
Edits by Berlin Sylvestre

Tony what brings you to the ATL?

I am coming to open for Joan Rivers on the 29th of June at the Atlanta Symphony Hall. I’m also there to support a local Atlanta charity, Positive Impact. I‘ll be doing a benefit at Blake’s on the Park on Saturday, June 29th between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Come out and support this benefit! There will be food, cocktails, and so much more. I’m so excited to come to Atlanta. It’s always such a great time and I’m just thrilled I’m able to do both in one trip. By the way you can ride in style with a designated driver for that day just download the Uber App on your smartphone and enter the code UBERLAUGHS for a discount and come see me at Blake’s!

We’re thrilled to have you! We gotta ask: What is it like to work with the Queen of Comedy Joan Rivers?

I would love to tell you that she’s tough as nails and she’s a total bitch who’s critical and hates everything, but that’s just not the case. The truth is, Joan has become like a grandmother to me. She is affectionate — we kiss ‘hello,’ we say ‘I love you’ when we’re saying goodnight, and she is far too involved in my life that any employer should be. I just recently moved into a new house and her very first question was: “Do you have enough china?” That tells you a little something about the lady I work for. She’s just wonderful. She’s constantly trying to find me a husband —she’s a Jewish mother, after all, and that’s what they do. She doesn’t understand why I’m such a nice boy, but don’t have someone. We laugh so hard and all the time. I’ve learned so much from her and she has the most incredible work ethic that I’ve ever witnessed. I’m so proud to call her a friend, a part of my family, and a complete mentor.

You work as a writer for “Fashion Police.” What do you prefer: being in the background or being on stage?

I definitely prefer being on stage and being on camera. That was my dream as a little gay boy growing up in Phoenix, AZ. I never saw anyone on television that I thought was like me. I always wanted to find a way, as an adult, to be on television so that other little gay kids growing up would see someone like them on television and in their homes. That said, to get to be behind the scenes and write jokes that are made 10 times better through the talent of someone like Joan Rivers is incredible as well. I really, really love my life — I have the best of both worlds.

Have you always been open about your sexuality?

I always knew. I remember being very small, maybe four or five years old, and noticing billboards and advertisements always had a man, a woman, and a child. I remember thinking to myself that when I grow up, I don’t imagine [my life] with a man, a woman, and a child; I imagine me, another man, and a child. So I knew there was something that wasn’t typical [about me]. I spent a very short time realizing there was no one like me on television, so I thought: “It must be really horrible … to be ‘that thing.’”

I remember watching “Charlie’s Angels,” and they showed pimps and drug dealers and criminals, but they never showed [gay people]. I remember thinking: “Gosh! It must be even worse!” Luckily, my parents were so accepting. I officially came out when I was 17, but I don’t think they needed me to actually say it. I think it’d been pretty clear. I never felt like my family was going to turn their backs on me or kick me out.

Tell us about your time as a Chippendale stripper.

It’s really weird. I made my living as a singer until 2001, and you really just go from job to job. You’re singing what people tell you to sing, so I was Aladdin for The Walt Disney Company for three years. At the same time, I got hired to sing for a Chippendale’s European tour, so I literally went from being this Disney character to being this guy singing between male strippers — that was a weird adjustment. One of the things that I always try to tell people, regardless of what they do for a living, is: “Say yes to everything.” All those experiences add up to make you who you are. I’m so grateful for it and the truth is, it wasn’t my favorite experience, dealing with male strippers. They weren’t the smartest, kindest people I’ve ever dealt with, but I will say: There’s nothing quite as hilarious as watching two straight men fistfight over waterproof mascara.

Tony, I think you’re a man’s man because of your willingness to fly out to Atlanta early and help raise funds for Positive Impact. Have you found your charity platform as you gain fame?

It comes back to that “Say yes to everything” philosophy. Anytime there’s a charitable organization that could possibly be helped by me showing up and telling my dirty stories for an hour, I’m thrilled to be there. There are people doing much tougher work. There are people volunteering at phone banks, the really tough fundraising, and those are the people who really deserve the credit. I’m thrilled anytime there’s an AIDS-related charity. I’m 43 years old. I’m of that generation that became sexually active right when MTV was putting condoms on bananas. I’m part of the first generation that knew what safer sex was and what the rules were and we’ve never really lived any other way. I find so many men my age are incredibly complacent about it and I find that troubling. So anytime I can do any work for an AIDS/HIV-related organization, I’m thrilled to step up.

What can we expect on season four of “Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best”?

Oh, it’s great. We’ve been given the greenlight for season four and, as you know, Joan’s birthday is coming up in June. It’s pretty rare for a star of a television show to reach that milestone. I’m really hoping to incorporate some of the celebration, [even though] she doesn’t like birthdays. Melissa’s going to have to twist her arm and do a lot of secret planning behind the scenes in order for there to be any celebration — Joan’s just not having it. I hope the cameras are around to capture all of that. It’s such an adventure. I’m excited to see what happens in season four. Joan’s career is constantly getting hotter and hotter and she’s getting busier and busier, and at some point, she’s going to snap. I think the show’s going to be more about finding balance.

When can we see you in the thong again?

*laughs* I still can’t believe I thought that was a good idea, but I did it. I try to say yes to everything, and I will tell you that I’m such a sucker for a man with a big smile and a tiny ass. That combination can pretty much get me to do absolutely anything.

You’ve mentioned you’re single. Besides the smile and the small ass, what are you looking for in a man and do you think you can find him in the South?

I had my sophomore year of high school at Roswell High, so I only lived in Atlanta for one year. I was 14, so it’s not like I was really dating. I would love to have a nice romance with a Southern boy. I think everyone should experience that, but I’m only in town for a couple days. Can we make this happen? I’m at that age where I want a husband and a house. I work so much and I travel so frequently, that I’d love to have someone that could share it, that could be there at home at night. That’s very important to me.

Thank you Tony and we look forward to seeing you on the 29th at Blake’s. For tickets to the Positive Impact benefit click here.

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