Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Resources about HIV/AIDS and Other STDs

by Samuel Rumore, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

On Thursday, April 26, AIDS Alabama is having their 9th annual Dining Out For Life event. This annual event gives the general public the opportunity to contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the local Birmingham community by going to locally participating restaurants with at least 25% of each bill going to AIDS Alabama.

A few of the restaurants participating in this event are also participating in Birmingham Public Library’s Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia event. So by participating in one event, you could be contributing to two great organizations.

Here are some facts and statistics to keep in mind about HIV/AIDS and other STDs in our area:

  1.  “In 2014, there were an estimated 37,600 new HIV infections – down from 45,700 in 2008. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men bear the greatest burden by risk group, representing an estimated 26,200 of these new HIV infections.” (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html)
  2. “By transmission category, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the most at risk category. In 2014, Male-to-Male Sexual Contact made up 70% of all new HIV infections with Heterosexual Contact making up 23%, Injection Drug Use 5%, and Male-to-Male Sexual Contact & Injection Drug Use 3%. In 2016, gay and bisexual men accounted for 67% of HIV diagnoses, whereas, in the same year, individuals infected through heterosexual sex made up 24%.” (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html)
  3.  “If we look at HIV diagnoses by race and ethnicity, we see that African Americans are most affected by HIV. In 2016, African Americans made up only 12% of the US population but had 44% of all new HIV diagnoses. Additionally, Hispanic/Latinos are also strongly affected. They made up 18% of the US population but had 25% of all new HIV diagnoses.” (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html)
  4. ”HIV is largely an urban disease, with most cases occurring in metropolitan areas with 500,000 or more people. The South has the highest NUMBER of people living with HIV, but if population size is taken into account, the Northeast has the highest rate of people living with HIV. (Rates are the number of cases of disease per 100,000 people. Rates allow comparisons between groups of different sizes.)” (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html)

With that being said, it made me think about resources that are available about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

National/General Resources
  1. A great site to start is the US Government’s official website on HIV. 
  2. Medline Plus – This site provides health information from the National Library of Medicine.
  3. Centers for DC – This site also provides an interactive component to gauge your risk. It also provides statistics and testing sites.
  4. World Health Organization – A great resource to get information and statistics from around the world.
  5. AIDSVu – An interactive online map from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University that illustrates the prevalence of HIV in the United States. It puts CDC statistical information in context in map form.
State/Local Information
  1. Alabama Public Health
  2. AIDSAlabama
  3. Birmingham AIDS Outreach – BAO provides free and confidential tests for the following: HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis (TRICH), hepatitis C, and syphilis. 
  4. Jefferson County Department of Health
PrEP
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a new strategy to prevent HIV. This is where people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. If taken as directed, daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injected drug users by more than 70%. (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html)

If you are at high risk of getting HIV, please see your doctor or visit the local organizations above, and ask about getting on PrEP.

A great book that I found that talks about PrEP is The PrEP Diaries: a safe(r) sex memoir by Evan J Peterson.

The most important information that I gained from looking into this topic is:
KNOW YOUR STATUS.
GET TESTED.
PRACTICE SAFER SEX.

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